Friday, October 7, 2011

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's an osprey

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Aircraft like this one would train over southern Colorado under an Air Force proposal.
  • Boeing.com
  • Aircraft like this one would train over southern Colorado under an Air Force proposal.

The Air Force is forging ahead on its plan to use a good chunk of Colorado as a low-altitude fly-over zone in testing aircraft, notably the Osprey, which has a bad reputation for fatal crashes.

An environmental study conducted by the Air Force concluded no significant impact from the fly-overs, but some residents disagree.

A community meeting held at the Senior Center last night in Colorado Springs drew about 25 people, says Joyce Cheney, a local resident who opposes the fly zone.

In an e-mail to us this morning, Cheney writes:

I recommend scrapping the whole plan. At the meeting, I recommended that the AF/Cannon Air Force Base take a courageous and patriotic stand in two ways: (1) Question whether these planes (and thus the training) are necessary (Can the financially strapped US afford them? What enemy/war do we "need" them for?).
(2) Restrict training flights to existing military flyways and to the millions of acres of established military bases. Military representatives at the hearing told me that different branches of the military "don't cooperate or communicate well so that would be impractical." They also said that this non-cooperation is costly in terms of time and money. How courageous and financially responsible it would be if the AF insists that this is a time and situation when the military needs to make that cooperation happen.

The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for National Reporting for its investigation into the Osprey's abysmal safety record, reporting in detail about those killed and the mechanics of the aircraft.

Theatlanticwire.com reported after an April 9, 2010, crash of an Osprey in Afghanistan:

Skepticism about the military's CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor craft has been renewed after a deadly crash in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban took responsibility but NATO officials say the cause of the crash is not yet known. During its lengthy development, the Osprey was plagued by mechanical failures and exorbitant cost overruns. The futuristic craft can ascend like an airplane or lift off like a helicopter, but many claim it is highly vulnerable to enemy fire.

The fly-over plan has been publicized by media outlets in Alamosa, Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs and elsewhere.

Still, Cheney says the public meetings haven't been well publicized, so in case anyone is interested in attending one of the remaining meetings in Colorado, here's the schedule:

Oct. 10 — Aspen
6:00 — 9:00 p.m.
Aspen High School Seminar Room
235 High School Road

Oct. 11 — Durango
6:00 — 9:00 p.m.
Doubletree Hotel
501 Camino Del Rio

Oct. 12 — Montrose
6:00 — 9:00 p.m.
Montrose Pavilion
1800 Pavilion Drive

Oct. 13 — Gunnison
6:00 — 9:00 p.m.
Western State College
College Center Ballroom
600 N. Adams Street

Here's a map of the proposal zone from the Environmental Assessment:

Screen_shot_2011-10-07_at_10.16.48_AM.png

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