Monday, January 23, 2017

Military airspace expands in central Wisconsin

The skies over central Wisconsin might rumble less thanks to a recent change by the federal government.

The Federal Aviation Administration late last year approved an expansion of Volk Field's military practice airspace to cover southwest Marathon County and more of Portage, Wood and Clark counties, according to the Wisconsin National Guard.

The airspace — more than 30,000 cubic miles in total — was also moved further east into Winnebago, Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.

Volk Field is a military training facility in Juneau County, and expanding the practice airspace around it means crews can conduct more realistic training using the latest kinds of aircraft, including fighters, bombers and tactical planes, said Col. David May, Volk's commander.

But the military's basic use of the airspace is not likely to change, and it's possible that noise on the ground will decrease because pilots will be able to fly more often at higher altitudes, said Cpt. Joe Trovato, a spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard.

"By redrawing some of these boundaries and optimizing the space for military aircraft, it’s going to be less constrictive, which will result in a decrease in noise on the ground that you will hear," Trovato said.

A Wisconsin Rapids man last year reported that noise from military jets shook the ground of his home.

As part of the change, restricted air space also expanded in Wood, Jackson, Juneau and Monroe counties. Pilots in the restricted zone may use weapons systems or lasers during exercises, Trovato said.

The expanded airspace will be able to accommodate a new fighter jet that the Air Force could base at Truax Field in Madison.


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