Editorial: Support airspace expansion for training

Published May 26, 2013 at 05:00AM

The U.S. Air Force and the National Guard Bureau want more room for their planes to fly over Oregon. They should get it.

There are already thousands of square miles of airspace over the state that the planes can use to train. The proposal would grow that.

It would add about 2,500-square miles over Central and Eastern Oregon, in the air over Antelope, Mitchell and Fossil. It also adds areas along the coast, in Nevada and into Washington. In total, the square miles of training area in Oregon will go from 13,000 to 18,700.

Expanding the training areas may cause some irritation and inconvenience. When training is going on, restrictions are in place for the airspace for commercial and civil air traffic. But it doesn’t mean that the training areas permanently become off-limits to civilian aircraft.

The issue for most people on the ground will be in a word: noise.

The planes from the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls and the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland will be using the airspace for training for their air defense mission for the Pacific Northwest. They do all kinds of training — mock dogfights, how to rescue pilots from downed aircraft, recovering drones, and giving flight doctors the chance to experience first-hand the physiological effects of flying.

The expanded airspace provides more opportunity for pilots to explore the radar capabilities of F-15 fighters.

The Air Force and the National Guard need to be able to train frequently and realistically to be ready for war or disasters. They need to keep being the best at what they do. Support their proposal to add the airspace.

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