Ellsworth Officials Caution Rise In Sonic Booms Over Next Few Days

Jun 6, 2016

An airman enters a B1 bomber at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Credit Charles Michael Ray

Starting Tuesday, officials say locals should expect an increase in air traffic from the Ellsworth Air Force Base for the next three days.
The exercise is designed to train pilots while simulating realistic scenarios.
The Powder River Training Complex covers about 30-thousand square miles and stretches through part of the Dakotas, and into Montana and Wyoming.
Air Force spokesperson, Rachel Allison says area residents will see more aircraft in the sky during the training.  She says ten to fifteen aircraft are flying at a time.    
“F-16’s, F-15’s, the B-1’s, some tankers, and a few AWACS, which are some larger aircraft that help patrol the skies and kind of control the entire air space from higher up. Make sure they’re aware they will see those aircraft as well as the potential for sonic booms, which occur when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier. So if they hear loud booms, they shouldn’t be alarmed,” says Allison.
Allison says pilots will use the full scope of the entire air range, which can be anywhere from five miles to 500 feet. However, she says there’s a specific part of the complex where that takes place.
“That will only be occurring in one of the sections of the airspace that covers the corners of south eastern Montana, north eastern Wyoming, and then a small section of north western South Dakota,” says Allison.
Allison adds that the rest of the aircraft will stay above 12,000 feet.  
The expansion of the airspace training area has been adopted for little over a year now. Some Ranchers in the proposed area raised concerned about the expansion, and the impact of low flying aircraft.  Officials with the Air Force say they will work to be good neighbors and keep area residents informed when training exercises are taking place.