Vail Daily letter: Can’t fly for Flight Days, sorry
I wanted to take a moment and thank you for all your support for the Colorado Army National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Site over the years.
Thank you also to those who were able to attend our ribbon-cutting ceremony. For those who have not had the opportunity to see our new facility, we will be having an open house on a Saturday in the future so you all have an opportunity to see it. We will announce what day our open house will be held in the Vail Daily and Eagle Valley Enterprise, as we are still placing the finishing touches on the building.
We have been asked how our government’s financial situation is affecting us. For the most part, it hasn’t hindered our operations very much because our annual operating budget is small in the grand scheme of programs that were looked at. Where it has impacted us, and where you as a community will see a change, is in the community support missions we are no longer allowed to conduct.
Effective immediately, all aircraft fly-overs and static displays are no longer possible until further notice. This is a Department of Defense policy that you may have seen the effects of in the news with the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels Aerial Demonstration Team.
While it may not make sense to the layperson, across the Department of Defense, it is a significant amount of money that can be better channeled into supporting operational missions overseas. The cost to operate a UH-60 Blackhawk for an hour is approximately $5,200 and a CH-47 Chinook is about $10,100. Figured across all department components and all airframes, this cutback allows for focus on those in the war fight.
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Though we really enjoy doing these missions and the opportunities for interaction with the community it provides, we understand the reasons behind the decision and are happy to make small sacrifices to support our brothers and sisters in arms. We will still be able to conduct missions in support of state emergencies, including search and rescue and firefighting as directed, which we are thankful to be able to continue to give back to the community in that way.
I hope that we can maintain our closeness with the community in which we also live, and look forward to better financial times that will allow us to re-initiate the community support type missions.
Thank you again for all the support you have shown for my soldiers over the years.
Major Tony Somogyi