Last week, the Army warned that a helicopter brigade will arrive soon at Fort Carson to begin high altitude training before deploying to Afghanistan.
It’s routine for units to visit Fort Carson for two or three months to practice touch-and-go landings and other things with their choppers.
This alert, though, came with an invitation which caught my eye.
Anyone who encounters unreasonable noise was invited to call Fort Carson.
Army officials say they are serious about enforcing their “Fly Neighborly” program on visiting brigades and especially when a new combat aviation brigade is established next year at the post with 113 helicopters.
“Soldiers need to train,” said Dee McNutt, Fort Carson spokeswoman. “But we need to be good neighbors, too.”
That means keeping helicopters within established flight corridors as they zip up Ute Pass and Gold Camp Road area to train in the Pike National Forest, or as they fly down the Highway 115 corridor to visit a couple dozen recently approved Bureau of Land Management sites near Canon City, or as they head over to the Pinon Canon Maneuvering Site northeast of Trinidad.
It means keeping the choppers at minimum heights to avoid buzzing cattle or campgrounds or neighborhoods and unduly upsetting folks.
Follow this link to the Army’s environmental assessment of the Combat Aviation Brigade and the impact of locating it at Fort Carson. It discusses noise issues in chapter 4.4 beginning on page 67.
One skeptic is Bill Sulzman, a longtime Springs peace activist who opposes military expansion in the region and has campaigned against the permanent chopper bridge.
Sulzman doubts the Army’s sincerity, or their ability to control pilots, when it promises to mitigate noise.
“I think it’s lip service,” Sulzman said, noting that Fort Carson is under pressure to avoid upscale neighborhoods like the Broadmoor as well as Cheyenne Canyon State Park just west of the post.
But McNutt insists her community relations office works hard to reach out to neighbors to solve noise issues. And it stands ready to respond to future issues related to the helicopters.
“We have a lot of helicopter units come through,” she said. “Sometimes issues may arise. If we’re flying over people and it’s causing difficulties, we want to know about it.”
She said neighbors experiencing chronic noise often are invited to the post to meet with the unit to describe what they are hearing and try to solve the problem.
It’s especially important for neighbors to speak up as the permanent new aviation brigade settles in at Butts Army Airfield, McNutt said. Once pilots learn the region, she predicts a great relationship.
“They’ll know the flight corridors better and it will be easier to work with our neighbors,” she said.
In the meantime, jot down the number — 719-526-9849 — and don’t be shy about calling.