Residents push back against Air Force airspace expansion plan | KOB 4

Residents push back against Air Force airspace expansion plan

Casey Torres
April 11, 2018 07:09 PM

CARLSBAD, N.M. -- The U.S Air Force wants to expand the F-16 training flights from Holloman Air Force Base over a wider area, but the proposal is facing pushback from many southeastern New Mexicans.


In an effort to hear out what the residents have to say, an Air Force deputy chief met with state and local lawmakers and stakeholders in Carlsbad over the proposed airspace expansion.

Many residents aren't happy with one of the alternatives to expand the Talon Military Operations Area, which will cover most of the Roswell, Artesia and Carlsbad airspace.

Jim Ballard, a Carlsbad business owner, said he is concerned with the safety of his work crew. Ballard owns a pipeline patrol company where they operate 500 to 600 feet above the ground to surveilling pipelines for leaks and spills. He said the F-16s would cause space issues.

"We operate 140 miles per hour and they're replacing it (airspace) with F-16 aircraft that are operating at 1,400 miles per hour," Ballard said. "It really presents a huge safety concern of separation between these aircraft." 

Ballard added the expansion could hurt those who need medical attention. Air ambulances would have to circle F-16s and delay the time it takes to get people to hospitals for urgent care, said Ballard.

Supporters, including New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, say the expansion will create jobs and secure the future of the base in the state. Ballard doesn’t oppose expansion, but he wants the Air Force to adjust one of the alternatives for expansion to reduce the impact on local communities.

Capt. Kaylee Ausbun with the 49th Wing Public Affairs Office at Holloman said the public's input is the first phase of the process and all comments are being considered. Ausbun said anyone wanting to send an email or letter with their concerns can do so on the website which has information pertaining to the MOA expansion proposal.

Edward Chupein, deputy chief of Operational Training Division for the Air Force, will meet with state leaders in Roswell Thursday morning. That night, Chupein will meet with the Roswell City Council and the public at the Bassett Auditorium of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, 100 W. 11th St. at 6 p.m.


Casey Torres

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