Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Western Oklahoma Wind Farms Disrupting Military Flights, Aeronautics Officials Say

T-38 Talon training aircraft from Vance Air Force Base in Enid participating in a fly-over in Oklahoma City.

Bill Wilson / Flickr/CC BY 2.0

T-38 Talon training aircraft from Vance Air Force Base in Enid participating in a fly-over in Oklahoma City.

Wind Farms The growing number of wind farms in western Oklahoma is disrupting military flight training, state aeronautics and military officials say.

The problem is concentrated along flight paths used for military training near Vance Air Force Base in Enid and Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission Director Victor Bird tells the Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock:

He said the wind turbines stretch 495 feet above ground, while the training routes start at 500 feet above ground.

“Generally speaking, there is not enough clearance,” Bird said.

“These are men and women who don’t know how to fly yet,” said Mike Cooper, chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission. “They are learning how to fly.”

A measure that would have required wind farm operators to get a permit from the Aeronautics Commission before construction, Senate Bill 447, died during the 2017 legislative session.

Jeff Clark with the Wind Coalition says wind farm locations are cleared with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration:

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission does not have expertise in the area, and the bill would have created unnecessary bureaucracy, Clark said.

“We believe that protecting the viability of our military bases should be the top priority and we should rely on the experts in the military — not an unqualified state bureaucracy — to determine impacts of proposed projects,” Clark said.

Bird disagrees, saying his agency has been administering for seven years the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, which protects areas around public airports, including military airports, from incompatible development.

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