Central Pa to lose military helicopter training program

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 2, 2013 12:39 PM


(New Cumberland) -- The Department of Defense is in the midst of moving some of its helicopter training programs from central Pennsylvania to Arizona.

The eight Lakota helicopters will be stationed at a base just north of Tucson, after years of training at Fort Indiantown Gap and Capital City Airport in New Cumberland.

Todd Smith is the owner of Volo Aviation, which helps manage the facility by renting out hangar space and selling fuel.

A retired member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, he says the airport will lose some revenue with the move, but that's not what concerns him most.

"You don't train mobilization tasks at the school house, just because one or two units a year go to the border mission. That's added expense and everything else."

"That's not how the Army trains."

Colonel Dave Wood with the Pennsylvania National Guard says it makes sense to move the aircraft to Arizona, because they're often used for missions on the border with Mexico.

"It makes perfect sense to train the pilots and crews of the Lakota, who are going to be spending a lot of time in that environment, to be training in that environment. Hot, dusty type of environment, which we don't have here in central Pennsylvania."

He says the loss of the Lakota helicopters should be offset with an increase in Blackhawk trainings in the midstate soon.

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