There are some in North Dakota who think their state would make a great military training area. In fact, they want to turn the entire state into a giant military operations area (MOA). It might convince the Air Force to do all its F-22 training there and protect the state's Air Force bases from closure.
The state legislature thought it such a great idea that it rushed through a resolution - without much discussion or public scrutiny - that offered the military all of the state's land and airspace.
Fortunately, AOPA has been working this issue for more than four years, and the association quickly helped get the resolution (HCR 3060) toned down. "General aviation touches nearly every aspect of the lives of North Dakota residents, and in many areas without commercial air service or even an advanced highway system, general aviation may represent the only means of civil transportation," AOPA said in a letter faxed to the president of the state Senate. The proposed statewide MOA would "effectively restrict the airspace above the state and severely limit or even eliminate the economic benefit of civil aviation activity."
So the Senate amended the resolution to note that "North Dakota has a thriving commercial and private air service industry that could be beneficial to assisting in this initiative and the state pledges to work cooperatively to ensure all military, private, and public air service needs are met."
"AOPA, the North Dakota Aviation Association, the North Dakota Pilots Association, and seven other general aviation groups have consistently opposed the Air Force's North Dakota Training Initiative proposal," said AOPA Central Regional Representative Bill Hamilton. "It's also important to note that legislative resolutions in and of themselves don't mean much, and the North Dakota legislature only meets on alternate years. So nothing is likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
"But AOPA members should know that we've been on top of this one from the beginning, and it's not going to slide through the cracks."
April 21, 2005