In the near future, the United States Air Force will start flying low-level training missions over the Bowman and Slope Counties.
By Frank Turner
According to Airspace Manager George Stone, a representative from Ellsworth Air Force Base, the low level trainings could involve high-speed aircraft flying as low as 500 feet above the ground.
Last week, Stone gave a presentation at the Bowman Lodge and Convention Center to address questions and concerns about how the low level military operations might affect the local area.
Specifically, Stone said that low-level trainings have many benefits for real world military operations. Low-level flying can help aircraft remain hidden, however to maintain low altitude, an aircraft must travel at high speeds.
“Our normal operating airspeed at low level flight is roughly 540 knots, or nine miles per minute,” said Stone. “Although that is incredibly fast, we are not allowed to go supersonic at low altitude.”
Although the planes are not allowed to go supersonic, Stone said that the planes still create high levels of noise when passing by. To accommodate civilians, the military aircraft stay away from townships, airports, and even certain calving areas.
“The noise created by these aircraft is loud,” he said. “The noise can touch over 100 decibels, but the noise is only temporary.”
Although the military tries to reduce their impact as much as possible, the operations can affect not only people on the ground, but also area pilots. Stone warned that it can be difficult to see a low-flying bomber, especially at high speeds. He said that local pilots should be aware of active military operating areas and practice “see and avoid” aviation practice.
“The reason we fly low is to hide,” said Stone. “There will always be at least one set of eyeball looking out for you.”
Stone said that people can visit sua.faa.gov to see when a military operations area is active and for more information regarding the low-level flight operations.