Air Force flyovers caused quite a stir in March

The Crestone Eagle, April 2004:

by Isadora Storey

On the evening of March 22 Crestone/Baca residents poured out of their doors when large aircraft flew loud and low over their homes. People were alarmed by the noise and close proximity of the aircraft.

According to reporter David Nicholas, flyovers during the day on March 17 and at night on March 22 “appeared to be C-5 Galaxy Airlifters, the largest cargo plane in the US arsenal.” He said the C-5 jet aircraft were flying low “about 300 feet above ground level and at a speed that seemed very close to stalling.” The planes approached, “flying low before banking south over the Baca Grande Subdivision towards the Sand Dunes, then turning and heading west, climbing to gain altitude.”

Nicholas said the aircraft were “using searchlights and bright halogen lighting, flashing on and off.” “Also, they were using infrared heat sensitive guidance systems and flashed the spotlight on me each time they passed over.”

Kate Steichen reported that the aircraft flew over her house the night of March 22, “flying so low that I jumped out of bed, fearful that a plane was about to crash into my two-story home.”

Glenn Ennis, POA General Manager, said, “It’s hard to believe that the Crestone/Baca area has been designated as a quiet zone for Air Force flights originating out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.” After receiving calls from property owners, he spoke with Lt. Col. Larry Norton, airspace manager at the base, and said that Norton and the base have cooperated with us in the past to limit C-130 cargo flights in the area. While talking to Norton, he learned that the C-5 and C-17 flights originated out of state, and that out-of-state pilots are not required to check in at the Peterson flight desk, where they would be notified of the quiet zone designation.

Lt. Col. Norton offered to contact several bases, as he was uncertain exactly where the flights originated, and Ennis later learned that the unit had been notified of the quiet zone and is not expected to fly in this area again. If training flights should occur in the future, Lt. Col. Norton can be contacted at 719-556-3345. There is no need to report past flights, and, because Peterson AFB has been very cooperative with us in the past, Ennis asks that concerned residents be courteous if they call.