Airport officials approved a memorandum of understanding with the Guard to limit a training exercise involving movement of a 4,200-pound concrete block to the southwest area of the airport’s sole runway if the Guard trains at the facility off Rockmart Highway.
“Flight crews will avoid over flight of any houses or populated areas to mitigate risk,” the memorandum states.
The Guard, based at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, has used Black Hawk helicopters in a variety of day and nighttime training exercises at Silver Comet Field for more than a year. However, area residents recently complained about noise levels and the Guard moved operations to Rome. The Paulding County Commission then voted March 11 to approve a resolution supporting the Guard’s use of the Paulding facility.
Post 2 County Commissioner Todd Pownall said some surrounding residents had complained to area leaders “for years” before asking the Guard to cease operations.
“I don’t think any citizens are opposed [to the Guard],” he told the authority last week. “They just want to make sure [training is] done in the right areas.”
However, officials said the airport authority, which oversees Silver Comet Field operations, could not regulate which flight path Guard units would use to enter the airport – only where the training is done on airport grounds.
The agreement covers only the Guard training operation involving moving the concrete block from one place to another to simulate moving loads of supplies in emergency relief operations. The authority also must sign agreements on other training operations, including parachute jumps and use of buckets to simulate rescue operations.