Low-level flights subject of meeting

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FARMINGTON – People have a final opportunity Wednesday to obtain information and offer comments on a proposal to lower the floor for military aircraft training above Western Maine. The Maine National Guard will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. July 11 at the Olsen Student Center at the University of Maine at Farmington.

The proposal calls for dropping the training floor to 500 feet above the ground for a 5,000-square mile air zone above Oxford and Franklin counties. The floor is now 2,800 feet above the ground for space identified by the military as Condor 1 and Condor 2.

The proposal would combine the Condor 1 and 2 military operation areas and then divide the combined area into a high military operation area and a low military operation area with a lowered flight floor of 500 feet above ground.

Meetings have been arranged for people to listen to the plan and ask questions. This will be the final such session. Written comments will also be received until July 15 and may be addressed to: NGB/A7CVN, Attention: Lt. Col. Landon Jones, 3500 Fetchet Ave., Andrews AFB, MD 20762.

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Military training includes pilots from Air National Guard units in Massachusetts, Vermont and New York with F-15 fighter jets.

“I know it’s a controversial subject,” Town Manager Richard Davis said, “but I haven’t heard any comments about the proposal in regards to Farmington.”

Davis said he had learned of the meeting through a notice sent to him by Western Mountains Alliance and had made copies for selectmen.

“While the alliance is not taking a stand on the issue, we wanted to share the information so that people can attend or have the opportunity to prepare their written comments,” said the group’s Kathleen Beauregard.

At a previous meeting in Rangeley, reactions to the proposal were mixed. While support and appreciation for what pilots will train to do to was voiced, concerns over safety and noise were also expressed.

The final decision on the air floor is up to the Federal Aviation Administration. The military has been meeting with the public to gain information and concerns prior to submitting a draft environmental assessment to the FAA.

An analysis of the environmental impacts of the proposal as presented in a draft environmental assessment are available at Rangeley and Rumford libraries or online at www.maine.gov/mdot/aviation/airstudys.php

More information may be directed to Maj. Michael J. Backus of the Maine National Guard at 626-4390 or michael.backus@us.army.mil

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