Thumb, northern Michigan considered for military aircraft test trajectories

The US Air Force is studying possible flight paths to conduct test flights for some of its planes, and the Upper Michigan and Thumb are two of its options being considered.

According to a letter from Nolan Swick, a member of the Air Force Civil Engineering Center located near San Antonio, the Air Force is seeking to establish a permanent military sales pilot training center at the Air Force. overseas, which would initially provide space for up to 36 F-35 aircraft at a single location.

“Several nations have agreements with the DAF to purchase the F-35 aircraft,” Swick wrote. “This drives the need for a location suitable for initial training of F-35s before returning to their home country.”

Swick notes that Singapore is one of the countries that has purchased these F-35s, plans to keep its gear in the United States for an indefinite period, and plans to move 16 F-16s from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to anywhere. what place. is chosen to keep these trades.

Other countries listed in Swick’s letter as receiving F-16 or F-35 jets in the future are Poland, Finland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Proposed Michigan routes would depart from Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township. From there, the jets would pass over Thumb and Lake Huron, return over land near Au Gres, Alpena, and Oscoda, and pass over Grayling or head further north toward the Upper Peninsula.

The other option being considered by the Air Force is out of Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with training routes flying over Arkansas, southern Missouri, eastern ‘Oklahoma and brief stretches of Kansas and Texas.

Whichever option is chosen, this would entail facility renovations, new construction, and the addition of 384 military and civilian personnel and approximately 800 associated dependents.

The Air Force is currently in the scoping process, which identifies and determines the scope of all issues addressed in environmental impact statements, through Feb. 14. She will hold two virtual town hall meetings from 6 to 8 p.m. central time on February 1. and 3 on to solicit comments on the proposed action.

Meetings will begin with a welcome message followed by a 15-minute presentation outlining the goal of the project scope, timeline, opportunities for public participation, proposed actions and alternatives, and a discussion of resources. Another 15 minute presentation on each alternative will follow. There will be a 30-minute Q&A session followed by a 55-minute public comment section where members of the public will have 3 minutes each to comment.

Public comments outside of these presentations are encouraged. They can either be submitted electronically to, submitted by US Mail to:

FMS PTC EIS Project Manager,


2261 Hughes Avenue, Suite 155

JBSA Lackland, Texas 78236-9853

or via FedEx or UPS to:

FMS PTC EIS Project Manager,


3515 S. General McMullen, Suite 155

San Antonio, Texas 78226-2018

According to the website for this project, further public participation may be conducted during the EIS review period in July and August 2022. The final decision on the proposal to follow is expected in March 2023.

Upper Thumb is familiar with military aircraft proposals like this. The Michigan Air National Guard proposed a permanent Steelhead military operations area over Huron County in 2019, which featured jets flying as low as 500 feet off the ground in some areas, performing up to 14 sorties per week and performing five test flights. days a week.

This proposal has provoked backlash from some residents who have complained about noise from planes flying over the area and concerns about the negative impact of noise on tourism in the area.

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