Buckley Air Force Base Flight Operations
The Colorado Air National Guard is committed to being a good neighbor. We really appreciate the support we receive from the local community in Aurora and other surrounding neighborhoods. The following information is designed to improve your understanding of Buckley Air Force Base flying operations. We hope that it will give you an appreciation for why we fly and where we fly and help you understand that the noise we create is for a very important purpose.
We apologize for the nuisance that jet noise can be at times, but emphasize that the safety of the community and the development of our ability to effectively perform our combat mission are our top concerns.
The majority of flying operations at Buckley Air Force Base are conducted by the Colorado Air National Guard's 140th Wing. The rest of the flight traffic includes transient aircraft and the occasional visit from the President of the United States or other significant national and international leaders.
The 140th Wing is comprised of four groups, 11 squadrons and two geographically separated units. The 1500 personnel make up four separate Air Force Command units that provide our nation with fighter, airlift and support forces capable of global employment.
COANG Airmen deploy regularly to support on-going operations in the Middle East and to combatant commanders in various locations around the world, as well as respond in a state capacity to significant unexpected contingencies throughout the United States to protect life, property and preserve peace, order and public safety.
Included in the 140th Wing is the 120th Fighter Squadron, which operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The 120th Fighter Squadron is a dual-purpose fighter squadron with pilots qualified to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, including Offensive Counter-Air (OCA), Defensive Counter-Air (DCA), OCA Interdiction, Close Air Support (CAS), and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions. With the addition of the LITENING II and SNIPER targeting pod and the latest software upgrades, the 120th pilots are able to employ precision guided GPS and Laser-guided weapons. These pilots must train regularly to be able to effectively use the constantly changing and upgrading technology and conduct missions in deployed locations.
In addition, since September 11, 2001, the 140th Wing has provided Airspace Control Authority (ACA) forces to defend the central portion of the U.S. from aerial threats and employs their force with mastery and lethality, if required, in defense of the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Two pilots and an aircraft maintenance crew are on alert constantly to respond within minutes to any potential threat to our national security.
The Colorado Air National Guard mission at Buckley AFB includes three main training territories - main base, airspace, and auxiliary fields - each of which is essential to mission accomplishment, and each of which is threatened by urban encroachment. The F-16 training mission at Buckley AFB is dependent not only on the base itself, but also on its airspace, to include gunnery ranges, low level Military Training Routes (MTR), outlying auxiliary airfields and Military Operating Areas (MOAs).
The 140th Wing generally uses 4 different airspaces/MOAs as a standard.
The first is the Cheyenne MOA, which is situated on highway 50 from Kit Carson, CO to Sharon Springs, KS. The Cheyenne MOA is 70 miles east to west by 30 miles north to south.
The second is the Two Buttes MOA, which is centered at N37 38.636 W103 14.440, southeast of La Junta, CO. Two Buttes is 45 miles east to west and about 25 miles north to south. For two weeks out of the year we can activate the Pinon Canyon MOA, which extends the Two Buttes airspace to 90 miles east to west.
The third is the Laveta/Chama MOA, which is centered at N37 55.00 W105 05.50, just west of Colorado City, CO. The airspace is 80 miles north to south and 40 east to west.
The fourth is the Airburst A, B and C MOA, which is just north of highway 50 at Penrose, CO and is owned by Ft. Carson Army Post.
Our typical divert airfields are Colorado Springs, Centennial Airport, Pueblo, and DIA for any time a jet cannot or should not return to Buckley AFB.
The 140th Wing conducts over 2,300 flights in the local airspace annually. Flight operations are typically between 9 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, with one additional weekend per month, and occasional exceptions due to mission requirements.
Extensive training is necessary because fighter pilots need to know how to fly tactically, while simultaneously keeping their flight leader in sight, flying the briefed formation, keeping radar and visual lookout for threats, navigating using onboard systems and visual references, and monitoring aircraft systems and fuel, among several other mission-related tasks. While this intensive training can create a potential for noise disturbance, training this way ensures that the pilots are ready to perform all the required tasks in combat.
Furthermore, our flight planners work to minimize noise impact by tailoring training needs to specific training areas, limiting low-flying in areas of greater population.
COMPATIBLE LAND USE
The Colorado Air National Guard works directly with its local communities and the State of Colorado to address the issue of compatible land use in the areas surrounding Buckley AFB and to advise local municipalities of the impact from land development on our mission.
Development around Buckley Air Force Base is a reality. Buckley AFB and the COANG are vitally interested in compatible development that provides a high quality of life both for our Airman who work and live here and for the community. Compatible development ensures the long-term safety and welfare of citizens living around the base and successful completion of mission objectives.
Buckley's position regarding compatible land use is, and always has been, to closely coordinate with the appropriate zoning authority to ensure compatible land use decisions. Uncoordinated development could have a negative impact on our flight operations.
Green Airport Influence Signs
Aurora noise contour map
As displayed in the map linked above, a significant portion of the Aurora community falls in Noise Impact Districts. Inevitably, communities well outside these contours are also affected by jet noise. Additionally, safety risks become greater as encroachment from development results in tighter airspace restrictions. Although Military leaders cannot engage in local government and community decision-making, we strive to identify development proposals that may be incompatible with our military training mission. Base leaders are committed to providing information about our operations to government leaders, community planners, developers, and concerned citizens so they can make informed decisions about land use. This interaction is vital, since impacts to military training operations are not always readily apparent to those who want to make use of property near the base for real estate development.
The bottom line is we strive to keep Aurora a hospitable place for all of its residents to live and work, while simultaneously accomplishing our training and support to our nation. Of course, we cannot eliminate the impact on the community completely when it is nestled next to an active flying military base, but we constantly strive to be the best neighbors we can be.
Please don't hesitate to voice your concerns or suggestions.