Vermont National Guard builds new flight facility

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(Host) Officials from the Vermont National Guard announced on Monday the construction of new aviation center at Burlington International Airport.

Lieutenant Colonel Ted Wyman says the new building will house the Guard’s growing fleet of Blackhawk helicopters. It’s planned to be three times larger than the Kneeland Flight Facility it replaces:

(Wyman) The building has grown older, deteriorated. This big ol’ hangar door that you can see up front – when it opens in the wintertime, all that North wind comes in and the freezes the whole place for hours on end. And these new buildings – we’ll be able to keep them much better environmentally controlled.”

(Host) Adjutant General Martha Rainville thanked Senators Jim Jeffords and Patrick Leahy for their work in funding the project. The 35-million dollar price tag makes it the largest federally funded military construction project in the country.

Senator Leahy says it’s part of the long-term plan to put the Vermont Guard at the leading edge of preparedness:

(Leahy) “It’s sort of a chicken-egg thing – to get one you need the other. But ultimately we’ll have one of the best helicopter facilities anywhere along the Atlantic seaboard, and it will be here. And that will basically tell the Pentagon, You’ve got the facility, make sure you put the people there. You know you have the best trained mechanics, the best trained pilots – now let’s keep it going.”

(Host) Burlington mayor Peter Clavelle also attended Monday’s announcement. Clavelle said the vacated Kneeland facility at Burlington Airport will be turned over for commercial use, and will stimulate economic growth in the region.

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