28th Bomb Wing leads community partnerships in training complex
By Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 03, 2018
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- The 28th Bomb Wing is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to continue expanding the Powder River Training Complex and informing communities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming of flight operations and exercises.
The PRTC is a military training airspace that covers approximately 34,000 square miles and provides aircrew opportunities to train on new technology to combat threats.
“We expanded the PRTC to help train pilots and weapons system officers against threats and technology our adversaries possess,” said George Stone, 28th Operations Support Squadron airspace manager. “We also know conducting these training missions requires our planes to fly low. The B-1 is [one of] the loudest planes the Air Force has in its toolbox, and people who live in and around the PRTC are concerned about the noise level.”
The PRTC is made up of 18 military operations areas and some of the areas are stacked on top of one another based on altitude. They range from 500 feet in elevation to 18,000 feet. The PRTC will be expanding as some of the MOAs have been selected to change how high and low aircraft can fly which will allow aircrew to participate in more types of training exercises.
The low-flying aircraft are a large concern for residents in the MOA, especially ranchers who require quiet surroundings during time when calf birthing season. Ellsworth leadership heard the concerns and work to resolve the issue.
“We avoid ranches during calving season because of the concerns of these ranchers,” said Shawn Pyle, 28th OSS range manager. “We want to maintain our partnership with the communities, and as the base grows we want our partners in towns and counties in the surrounding area to grow with us.”
Keeping B-1 crews trained and ready to confront the adversaries of the U.S. is a top priority for the Air Force. The variety of altitudes in the PRTC allows pilots and WSOs to challenge themselves. Ellsworth recognizes that these readiness requirements can require collaboration with the local community.
“We hold town meetings so those who are affected by aircraft using the PRTC can voice their concerns,” Pyle said. “We go out there so the people can ask the tough questions.”
Members from the 28th OSS held town halls in Baker, Montana and Bowman, North Dakota, to update residents on flying operations in the area and collaborate on solutions to help Ellsworth maintain readiness and lethality.
“Ellsworth is going to grow and we expect the community will grow with it,” said Maj. Ariane Greenman, 28th OSS range operations officer. “We need to grow with them, because it’s beneficial to both parties if we cooperate.”