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FAA withdraws Montana restricted airspace proposalFAA withdraws Montana restricted airspace proposal

FAA withdraws Montana restricted airspace proposal

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Cow Creek airstrip

The FAA on Monday withdrew a proposal to establish restricted airspace near Bear Paw, Montana. AOPA had objected to parts of the proposal because it would have restricted access to the Cow Creek backcountry airstrip.

"Backcountry airstrips are particularly important in the West and Alaska because they are frequently the only means of access to large areas of public land," said Melissa Bailey Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory and certification policy. "That's critical not only for recreational use but also for fire fighting and land and wildlife management. That's why AOPA has worked with Congress and the FAA to keep these airstrips open."

AOPA had suggested that boundaries of the proposed restricted area (R-4601B) within the Hays Military Operations Area (MOA) be shifted to exclude the area around Cow Creek. AOPA also endorsed a proposal to provide a VHF radio frequency that pilots could use to find out if the MOA or restricted area was in use.

"We continue to push the FAA and the military to provide real-time information on the status of all special-use airspace," said Rudinger. "The frequency for the controlling agency should be listed on aeronautical charts so pilots can determine if an area is 'hot.'" That allows civilian pilots to avoid detours around military areas when the military isn't actually using the airspace.

The FAA withdrew the Bear Paw proposal because the military was unable to acquire use of the land beneath the proposed restricted area. The Air Force had intended to use the area for air-to-ground training for the Montana Air National Guard 120th Fighter Wing.

August 3, 2004

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