November 30, 2012

County to pursue F-35 jets for Plattsburgh Airport

 PLATTSBURGH — The idea of luring Air Force F-35A aircraft to Plattsburgh International Airport from across the lake could be gaining some traction.

“We want to keep an open mind about this, and I believe some phone calls will be made,” said Clinton County Legislator Robert Heins, who chairs the county’s Airport Committee.

At Wednesday night’s County Legislature meeting, Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh) was asked by fellow Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) if the Airport Committee had discussed the idea of going after the F-35s.

Heins admitted that it was being discussed.

“There are a lot of political issues to deal with, but we should take a look at this, and we are,” Heins said.


The idea came up in July, when rumors swirled that the Air Force might consider finding another location for the aircraft, including Plattsburgh, instead of Burlington International Airport across Lake Champlain in Vermont.

Some residents of South Burlington, where the airport is located, have strongly objected to the Air Force putting the aircraft there, mostly because of noise. In May, the South Burlington Council voted 4 to 1 to oppose the plan to locate F-35s at Burlington International Airport.

The council cited concerns about noise, air quality and safety as the chief reasons for its opposition.

Burlington Airport is the home of the Air National Guard unit known as “the Green Mountain Boys.” That unit now flies F-16s, but the Air Force is looking to replace those older planes with the newer F-35s.


Air Force officials denied the speculation about Plattsburgh in July, saying they were still analyzing five locations, including Burlington, which was a preferred site, along with Hill Air Force Base in Northern Utah.

The Air Force said it was also considering Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, Shaw AFB in Sumter, S.C., and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida.

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