by Rodney Schaaf, Bowman Regional Airport
The 28th Bomb Wing of Ellsworth AFB held an outreach briefing on November 15, 2019, in Bowman, ND. The meeting was hosted by the Bowman County Airport Board to update residents of the four local counties with upcoming LOW level military operations, as Powder River 3 Training Area directly impacts Baker, MT and Bowman, ND airports. George Stone, the Ellsworth AFB Airspace Liaison Representative, and Rodney Schaaf, representing the BWW Airport Board, presented the briefing, updates, mission profiles, and local concerns about LOW Level operations (500 feet AGL).
The LOW Level operations are scheduled to start in late spring of 2020. One communication tower in southeast Montana, as well as another proposed communication tower in northwest South Dakota, will complete the recall system. A 60 to 90 day test will then be conducted to ensure military aircraft can be recalled by Air Traffic Controllers (SLC) to allow IFR or emergency civil aircraft to arrive or depart Baker and Bowman airports. Powder River 3 MOA is still restricted to a HIGH MOA (12000 feet MSL to FL 180) until the recall system is tested. Rodney Schaaf explained the HIGH MOA has had little impact on local airport operations. VFR aircraft generally operate below 12000 feet MSL, while IFR aircraft might have to descend early or delay climb until clear of the area or enter Gap 3.
Each year, AOPA hosts a council meeting to make recommendations to further improve the MOA system.