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The following article appeared in the Moultrie Observer on September 28, 2006
Air Force ending Spence Field training
MOULTRIE — The skies over Moultrie and at Spence Field will be missing the buzz of future fighter pilots after today.
Moody Air Force Base (AFB) in Valdosta will no longer house the 479th Flying Training Group at the base after today due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Replacing the 479th Flying Training Group will be two squadrons of A-10 fighter aircraft, one from the 23rd Fighter Group currently based at Pope AFB in North Carolina. The A-10s are scheduled to arrive at Moody next year.
A letter of agreement between Moody AFB and Moultrie was signed in July 2004 to allow Moody to start using Spence Field for training. The training program, using the T-6A Texan II training aircraft, officially began at Spence Field in December 2004 with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Col. Richard Turner, 479th Flying Training Group commander, said the training squadron and fighter fundamentals introduction program will be dispersed among four other Air Force bases. The squadron will be sent to Columbus AFB in Mississippi, Vance AFB in Oklahoma and Laughlin AFB and Randolph AFB, both in Texas.
Col. Leslie Martin, commander of the 347th Mission Support Group, said the training program at Spence Field is being terminated because the incoming A-10s will not need to use the field. In addition to the flying missions ending today, the fire department personnel and equipment will be removed by Sunday, and all other equipment used during the training program will be will be cleared by Oct. 30.
Moody will still have a presence at Spence Field, however, as Martin said the base will still help support the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition.
“We don’t need to use Spence Field,” Martin said, “but we hope we can continue to work together and continue to be good neighbors. I would like to think we’ve been good neighbors, and it has been a team effort to provide support for each other.”
Turner said the training group appreciates the hospitality and patriotism shown to Moody and the pilots while using Spence Field. He hopes Moultrie will continue to support the Air Force and all future operations at Spence Field.
“In allowing us to use Spence Field
train the world's greatest aviators,” Turner said, “the citizens of
have improved both the Air Force and the nation’s defense. The
displayed by the citizens of Moultrie during our day-to-day operations
the special events at the field was consistently overwhelming. We hope
the citizens of Moultrie will continue to support whatever future
utilizes the facilities at Spence Field, and we feel assured that their
interest in the military will remain strong.”
Published October 04, 2006 10:07 pm -
Moody Air Force Base
A recent article in The Moultrie Observer reported pilots from Moody Air Force Base are no longer using Spence Field for practice. However, the Air Force said Wednesday, pilots continue to use airspace above Moultrie for training.
Spence Field back in the business of defense
MOULTRIE - It may never see the military activity it saw in its glory days, but Spence Field is now spiced with a return of the U.S. Air Force.
Senior Air Force officials, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss and Mayor William McIntosh will host an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday at Spence Field.
The 479th Flying Training Group, stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, recently began flying operations at Spence, continuing the airfield's long standing tradition of helping train U.S. Air Force pilots. The ribbon cutting ceremony will officially begin a new chapter of cooperation in the partnership between Moody and the City of Moultrie.
The 479th Flying Training Group, stationed at Moody, began using Spence Field for touch-and-go landing training of fighter pilots in August. Moody had already been using the air space over Moultrie for training with the T-6A Texan II training planes, but Spence Field was not used until a letter of agreement was signed in July between the City of Moultrie and Moody. Pilots being trained at Spence Field are first-time flyers.
Spence Field hosted pilot training during World War II through the early 1960's, and Col. Anthony Lazarski, commander of the 479th Fighting Training Group at Moody, said Moody's return is history repeating itself at Spence.
Moody AFB trains 95 percent of all fighter pilots and every weapons systems operator in the Air Force, and Lazarski said Moultrie has become a significant partner in their training missions. Spence Field hosts up to six T-6A Texan II trainer planes each day, used by new pilots to begin their training, which is half of Moody's fleet of the trainers.
Using Spence Field for training exercises has greatly eased the air traffic at Moody, Lazarski said. Since training began, Moultrie air space has allowed 85 to 100 sorties to be flown each of the 220 training days each year. Those daily missions over Moultrie only last for about six hours each day. That allows Moody to fly up to 176,000 sorties in a year over the skies of Moultrie.
Lazarski said the pilots train in pattern flying and touch-and-go landings at Spence. Moody will not, however, make use of Spence Field during city events, such as the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition.
Residents of Moultrie and Colquitt County are invited to attend this historic event.
For more information or questions about the ceremony please call the Moody Air Force Base Public Affairs Office at (229) 257-3395.
The following article appeared in the MOULTRIE OBSERVER on Tuesday October 12, 2004
Moody AFB leaders applaud Spence Field training
By John Oxford
MOULTRIE - The City of Moultrie and Spence Field have partnered with Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta to help train “the best fighter pilots in the world.”
Air Force Col. Anthony Lazarski, commander of the 479th Fighting Training Group at Moody, told a crowd of about 20 residents Monday that the Moody community, including Moultrie, is the greatest base in the country.
Spence Field hosted pilot training from World War II through the early 1960s, and Lazarski said Moody’s return is “history repeating itself” at Spence.
Moody AFB trains 95 percent of all fighter pilots and every weapons systems operator in the Air Force, and Lazarski said Moultrie has become a significant partner in its training missions. Spence Field hosts up to six T-6A Texan II trainer planes each day, used by new pilots in the Air Force to begin their training; that’s half of Moody’s fleet of the trainers.
Using Spence Field for training exercises has greatly eased the air traffic at Moody, Lazarski said. Training over Moultrie was started Aug. 16, and Moultrie air space allows for 85 to 100 sorties to be flown each of the 220 training days each year. Those daily missions over Moultrie last for about six hours each day. That allows Moody to fly up to 176,000 sorties in a year over the skies of Moultrie.
Lazarski said the pilots train in pattern flying and touch-and-go landings at Spence Field. Moody will not, however, make use of Spence Field during city events, such as the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition.
Mayor William McIntosh said the city is thrilled to help Moody pilots with their training and to be a “part of the great tradition and heritage” at Spence Field. The partnership between the city and Moody AFB is a great one and a worthwhile effort for both entities, McIntosh said.
Katrina McIntosh, wife of the mayor, said she feels safer whenever she hears the “wonderful sound” of the training planes in the skies.
Residents were given the chance to ask Lazarski any questions, and questions ranged from where the T-6A Texan II was made to how Moody chose Spence Field over other airfields. Spence was chosen to host the training planes, built by Boeing in Wichita, Kan., because both Moody and Moultrie can benefit from their presence, and Moody will not interfere with the industry already at Spence.
Along with Lazarski, Maj. Roger Suro, training instructor, said Moody is grateful to be in a community like Moultrie. Some places where training missions are being held don’t want the military presence, but Moultrie has been very welcoming to the Air Force training missions.
“We’re so happy to be in a place where the community wants us there,” Suro said.
The following article appeared in the MOULTRIE OBSERVER on Saturday July 3, 2004
Last details completed for Spence flight project
By John Oxford
VALDOSTA -- It's only a matter of days before Air Force flight training will return to Spence Field which saw its heyday as a flight school during World War II.
Moody Air Force Base and the Moultrie City Council signed a letter of agreement (LOA) Thursday that opens the door for Moody to start using Spence Field for training missions.
The announcement of the LOA came at the conclusion of a tour Moody hosted for Moultrie civic leaders. Some 14 community leaders from the City Council, Moultrie Police Department, Moultrie Fire Department, Spence Field, Sunbelt Exposition and Maule Air were on hand.
The Moody AFB tour was hosted by Capt. Erin Dick, The 347th Division Rescue Wing Chief of Public Affairs. City civic leaders were given a bus tour of the base, visited the 347th Rescue Wing and 479th Fighting Training Squadrons, inspected the T-6A Texan II and T-38C training planes and used a computer simulation of the training planes.
The tour of Moody ended with Capt. Kerry "Tids" Tidmore, a flight instructor with the 3rd Fighting Training Squadron, demonstrating the capabilities of a T-6. Tidmore performed barrel rolls, high speed passes, loop-the-loops and other high-performance tricks to show the group what pilots over Moultrie will eventually be able to perform.
Dick said every single fighter pilot in the United States Air Force comes through Moody's training program at least once. Moody was also one of the first Air Force bases in the country to have the T-6 training plane.
The T-6A Texan II training plane was highlighted because it is the training plane Moody will be using over the skies of Moultrie. The base will be using Spence Field for touch-and-go landings beginning in August.
Col. Tony Lazarski, Commander of the 479th Flying Training Group, said Moody plans to begin flying training missions starting August 16, 2004. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at Spence in August prior to the beginning of the training missions.
Lazarski said Spence Field will be holding only about five T-6's per hour once training missions begins, flying about 85 sorties a day. Using Spence Field as a training site will reduce traffic around Moody by about 30 percent, and the pilots will be performing pattern flying, touch-and-go and emergency landings.
The pilots flying over Spence Field from Moody will be pilots first learning how to fly for the Air Force, Lazarski said. The T-6's are the first planes pilots use at Moody, which will host 90 percent of all fighter pilots for training.
The up-and-coming fighter pilots do not come in without having some knowledge of flying, however. First Lt. Dan "Special K" Knerl, a T-6 instructor, said pilots training with the T-6 are required to have a private pilot's license and have accumulated 40 hours of flying experience.
Once pilots start in the Air Force's training program, Knerl said they will learn basic flying maneuvers such as how to fly and land and instrumentation. Before moving up to the T-38C, T-6 pilots will be able to fly in a formation.
Lazarski and Councilwoman Betty Haggins said they were looking forward to the partnership between the city and "Team Moody."
The following article appeared in the MOULTRIE OBSERVER on Friday February 27, 2004
Moody could begin pilot training at Spence by May
By John Oxford
MOULTRIE-- The partnership between the City of Moultrie and Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta to use Spence Field for training exercises is nearing completion.
After a refurbishing project by Moody, which invested more than $700,000 in the project, to provide much needed upkeep to the airstrip at Spence Field, training exercises appear to be starting in May.
The Air Force will use Spence Field as part of their pilot training program, Col. Tony Lazarski said. The 3rd Flying Training Squadron will be the primary users, flying the T-6 fighter trainer.
In addition to using the field for training, Lazarski said the Air Force will bring in two fire trucks, eight fire positions and various other air traffic personnel to Spence Field.
City Manager Bob Hopkins said the addition of the fire trucks at Spence will be beneficial for Moultrie because they can provide additional assistance for emergency response teams. Both parties describe the partnership as a "win-win situation" for everyone.
"This is an example of Valdosta and Moultrie working together to support Moody," Hopkins said.
Lazarski said Moody's use of Spence Field will not interfere with the other operations currently at the field. For example, Moody will not use Spence during the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition, but will utilize Moody for training during that time. The training will also not interfere with Maule Air's operations.
The day-to-day operations will be a learning process for everyone, Lazarski said. Moody plans on working together with all those involved with Spence Field to allow everyone to get their operations completed.
Spence Field has been used often in the past as grounds for pilot training, Lazarski said. The field was a training center from 1941 until 1948, and it was used again in 1961 for the T-37 training program.