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Early wake-up call coming for Air Force Academy cadets ... and nearby residents

By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: July 27, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — It will be an early wake-up call for cadets — and some of the Air Force Academy’s neighbors — as the school lengthens hours for its flight training with a 6 a.m. start Monday through Friday.

A stormy summer has forced the academy to frequently ground its planes, school officials said, leaving some cadets unable to complete training in powered flight and gliders. The training period ends Friday, along with the early hours.

“Adding one hour during optimum weather conditions of the early morning hours, will help get training requirements back on track,” the school said in a news release.

It could also add some complaints for the school, which has traditionally annoyed some of its northern Colorado Springs neighbors during the summer when flight training at the school hits its peak.

In recent years, the academy has held meetings with residents of northern Colorado Springs to soothe those rattled by having single-engine propeller planes overhead.

The academy has worked to send its fleet of T-53 training planes to the sparsely populated plains east of the school for the bulk of training. But training flights still begin and end at the school’s airfield, which can be viewed from Interstate 25.

Col. Joel DeBoer, who heads the academy’s flying program, said July was one of the worst weather months in recent memory for flight training, with a stream of thunderstorms and temperatures so high that they barred flying.

“In all of our flight operations, the safety of our aviators and the community is our top priority,” DeBoer said in an email.

“The airmanship programs, to include the summer flying program at USAFA, are a vital component to building the foundation of flight for Air Force pilots,” the academy said.

In recent years, the academy has sent about half of its graduates off to fly planes and drones as officers.

And the academy said it’s grateful for the community putting up with the droning noise that will hit some neighborhoods even earlier next week

“As we work to train our future Air Force leaders here at the Academy, I’d like to express our sincere thanks to every member of our community here in Colorado Springs for continued support of our flying programs,” DeBoer said.

©2019 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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