Last week two military C-130s flying out of Bradley Air National Guard Base in Connecticut flew over The Valley at 2:08 p.m. on August 27. Warren-Sugarbush Airport was not warned of the flyover.
The planes were flying at 600 feet above the ground, according to public affairs officer Lt. Jennifer Pierce. The planes crossed The Valley from southwest to northeast as part of Connecticut Air National Guard training. They were flying low to stay off radar and simulate flying into hostile territory, according to Pierce.
Tom Anderson, director of operations and airport manager at Warren-Sugarbush Airport, said that low-flying military planes were an ongoing problem at the airport and a serious safety concern.
He said that the airport was not notified of the pending flights and had regular flight operations underway as well as tow planes and gliders operating in the same air space.
“That’s where our traffic pattern is, 60 to 800 feet. Quite honestly that’s a pretty sketchy situation. At the speed they’re going – 250 knots or 280 miles an hour -- for them to see and avoid us is more cumbersome, especially when something pops over a ridgeline at that speed,” he said.
Anderson said that he thought there was a good possibility that the planes people saw and reported on August 27 were lower than 600 feet and pointed out that altitude is relative to where planes are over The Valley – ridgelines versus The Valley floor.
He said he had reached out to the Vermont Air National Guard about the issue in the past and said that the military flyovers are generating bad publicity for the Vermont Guard.
“My biggest problem with this is that we were not notified to keep our planes out of the sky. When this came up a year ago, I tried to find the right people to provide input and specifically give details about our traffic patterns and our elevation, but I got nowhere,” he said.
Connecticut Air National Guard spokesperson Pierce said that the flights were coordinated with the FAA – although FAA public affairs officer Jim Peters was unaware of the flight. Pierce said often training missions and routes are approved without specific dates for the training missions.
The planes started from and returned to Bradley Air National Guard Base. C-130s are 97.9 feet long with a 132-foot wing span and a cruising speed of 374 mph. They fly with a crew of five.