DUNCAN, Okla._Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls and the City of Duncan have reached an agreement for the base to utilize the Halliburton Field for their pilot training program.
The base approached city officials and airport management about the use of their runway, after the Hacker Field runway in Frederick was damaged in this spring's floods. The base is planning on using the Halliburton air field for their training for 12 to 24 months.
For Duncan, it means air traffic will nearly double at the airport, so people will notice a lot more planes in the sky. Right now, roughly 20 planes use the airfield daily. By adding the Air Force aircraft, an additional 20 to 30 more aircraft will be coming and going.
Public Works Director Ron Kroop says the city's biggest concern with the pilot training was the noise. Pilots will be flying Monday through Friday during daytime hours when conditions allow.
"Fortunately and fundamentally, it's very limited. Their intended training is touch and go, low approaches over the runway to orient student pilots with a certified instructor pilot in the aircraft," Kroop explained.
He says the city could also see some benefits. Kroop says the FAA gives financial assistance to public air fields. One factor is based on the level of flight activity. Along with possible funding, the base will house an aircraft crash rescue vehicle at the airport. So, local emergency crews will be able to work with Sheppard Air Force Base personnel in training exercises dealing with aircraft crashes.
Kroop says he doesn't see any negatives with the arrangement.
"I feel very good the Air Force wants to be a good neighbor. I feel they are sensitive and will do their utmost to minimize any impact to our community," Kroop said.
There is a 30 days out clause which means if Sheppard AFB or the City of Duncan doesn't think it is working out, they can opt out within the first 30 days of training. The base hopes to begin the pilot training at Halliburton Field by October 5.