Getting some time in the air, Lake County Commissioner Ken Kestner joined commissioners from Harney and Klamath counties, as well as state Senators Ted Ferrioli and Doug Whitsett, on a briefing and demonstration from the Oregon Air National Guard on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Times have changed in regards to air force tactics and dogfights between rival
crafts are no longer limited to a small space. “These days dogfights can extend to 70 miles with their speed and radar,” Kestner said, relaying the information delivered in the briefing. Due to this, the Guard informed all of those leaders present that they wished to extend their air space for F-15s, which would affect Klamath, Harney and Lake counties, in order to perform more realistic and in depth training exercises.
Kestner said that practices over the ocean were not efficient due to weather conditions and the cost to fly out far enough. “Over the desert it is a lot more practical,” he said. So, the Guard is performing an Environmental Impact Study to ensure that an extension would be as non invasive as possible.
Driving to Klamath Falls, Kestner said that he, Sheriff Phil McDonald and Lake County Roadmaster Rick DuMilieu were flown out to Alkali Lake in a large two propeller CH-47 Chinook, where the Guard held a demonstration of training exercise flight patterns. “They wanted to show us so we could get a first hand experience of the noise and the impact,” Kestner said. “They demonstrated the noise level at different heights.”
The proposed increase of the airspace would be mostly around Harney County, from west of the Malheur Lake to down around the Steens Mountain.