Army training program in jeopardy at Capital City Airport - abc27 WHTM

Army training program in jeopardy at Capital City Airport

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The U.S. Army is moving their UH-72 Lakota helicopter training school out of Capital City Airport.

The Army has already moved two helicopters to an existing training site near Tucson, Arizona.

The training site has been based out of Capital City Airport for four years. Volo Aviation runs the fixed base operations at Capital City Airport and they are fighting to try and keep the program.

"It is going to be a tough fight," said Todd Smith, general manager Volo Aviation.

Smith has been through this before. He reached out to lawmakers last year when there was word the program was going to be moved. Smith says local lawmakers helped delay the process.

"We could lose 21 to 25 million dollars of annual revenue that could come to the state," said Smith. "That is local hotels, restaurants, our company, no doubt about it."

Smith says there is also a risk the airport could lose their control tower.

"You need at least 10 thousand landings annually. The training program accounted for one-third of the airports annual landings. If we lose that tower, because we would not have the landings, then all the corporate activity that's based here leaves," said Smith.

The Army says Lakotas are used in border patrol operations and now pilots would be training in desert conditions.

"Training those pilots and those crews in that environment certainly makes sense so it is a good. That facility is also much larger," said Col. David Wood, Commander 28th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Fort Indiantown Gap is focused more on training with the Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters. The Colonel says this move will allow them to increase training operations at Fort Indiantown Gap.

"While there will be some impact on the Capital City Airport area, the balance that happens effectively brings more training and more aircraft to Fort Indiantown Gap," said Col. Wood.

Smith says he has contacted local lawmaker as well as the Governor's office for help.

"I know that they have sent out memorandums to the Secretary of Defense and they are asking that this whole process be stopped," said Smith.

The Army says the Lakota training site will be moved to Arizona by December 2015.


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