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Air Force Low Altitude Training Area (LATA) Proposal

The US Airforce proposes to fly the CV-22 Osprey and the C-130 airplanes at altitudes of 300 feet above ground level.

They will fly at night and at speeds up to 350 MPH. These maneuvers include in-flight refueling. There will be three flights per night over the mountains and valleys of a 60,700 square mile area of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. In addition, the area will be used for the training of pilots controlling attack and surveillance drones (UAVs)

THE LOW ANGLE TRAINING AREA PROPOSAL

Daily night-time year round training of CV22 Osprey and C130 tanker aircraft out of Cannon AFB, NM, at altitudes as low as 300 feet over an area that includes Grand Junction, Aspen, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Durango, and Pagosa Springs in Colorado, and Farmington, Aztec, Raton, Las Vegas, and Santa Rosa in New Mexico. Expensive, noisy, polluting, and dangerous – LATA was initiatied to give Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, NM – slated for closure – a “mission” to justify its continued existence. Imagine if the many millions these flights would consume were spent instead on jobs, health care, education and other crying human needs.(It cost $11,000 per hour to fly an Osprey)

Here are selected excerpts from the Draft Environmental Assessment that was withdrawn.

  • 3 missions per flying day(688 missions per year). Each lasting 5 hours, traversing 863 miles at 253 mph.
  • Any given location would be overflown within 1,000 ft, on average, approx. 3 times per month.
  • Aircrews would simulate dropping and retrieving personnel or supplies and participate in low altitude refueling.
  • If an emergency requiring a fuel dump were to occur, the aircraft would climb to greater than 2,000 ft.
  • The following activities would be avoided when the AF is notified:
    1. Native American cultural and ceremonial sites.
    2. Ranching operations such as calving, weaning, and branding.
    3. Mining operations.
  • Training crews would monitor emergency channels and adjust flight routing to avoid life-flight, fire equipment, and other emergencies.
  • Bird strike incidents have the potential to increase.
  • Range cattle are especially sensitive to the overflights when penned. There are procedures for ranchers to notify the AF of such activities and temporary avoidance areas can be established.
  • There would be no vibration-induced effects on historic properties or sensitive cultural/traditional resources underlying the proposed training area.
  • The proposed low altitude area would avoid population centers or centers of economic activity.

The No Action Alternative
The AF would have to coordinate to use other available airspace. Routes would have to be mapped in advance. The AF sees this as bad.