AP NEWS

Military-style Helicopters Return to Longmont Airport for Wildland Firefighting Training

April 3, 2019

Boulder County residents might have noticed Blackhawk and Lakota helicopters hovering through the air Tuesday, and they could see the aircrafts several more times this month.

The military equipment is flying out of Vance Brand Municipal Airport to be used by the Colorado Army National Guard for wildland firefighting training in live bucket operations with water from Ralph Price Reservoir.

Operations could run any time, weather permitting, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday through Sunday, and Tuesday through April 12.

The exercise allows for communications practice from air to ground crews and for the delivery of water to simulated fire zones.

The choppers will land to attach water buckets, fly between 500 and 1,500 feet above ground level, retrieve water from Ralph Price Reservoir, and then deliver it to water drop sites identified by ground firefighter crews.

Some Button Rock Preserve trails will be closed during the training exercises, and areas next to Ralph Price Reservoir could experience high wind and noise levels.

The use of Vance Brand for the training “highlights one of the ways the airport is used as a public and community service,” Longmont Airport Manager David Slayter said.

Vance Brand also hosted helicopter-based fire suppression training last year.

“We feel this is an important benefit to the community,” Slayter added.

Flight Deck Grill, the Vance Brand-stationed food truck open seasonally Wednesday through Sunday from May to October, is cooking earlier than normal to serve the Colorado Army National Guard and other exercise participants on the training days.

“They always request (the restaurant) be open as the food and service has become very popular with those protecting us,” Slayter said.

Flight Deck Grill is entering its 11th season at Vance Brand.

“Can’t you just taste the first Top Gun Burritos of the season?” Flight Deck Grill operator Dian Rennicke said in an email to airport users that Slayter shared.

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz .