March 23, 2023

A crowd of about 400 people filled the Fort Smith Convention Center Wednesday night for a public hearing on the future jet fighter pilot training plan to train foreign pilots at Ebbing Air National Guard Base.
The U.S. Air Force hosted the first of three public hearings about the plan to train foreign pilots to fly F-16s and F-35s the United States sells to other countries. The program is expected to bring a significant financial impact to the River Valley.
There were 60 people who signed up to speak for two minutes about the future training program Wednesday night. The City of Fort Smith has an environmental impact study underway in regards to the training program. The runway will need to be expanded and a flight simulator building constructed, officials said Wednesday night..
Areas near the air base could be impacted by noise, the land use, air quality or other environmental issues. There is a potential for an increase in noise at schools, events and in low-income and minority neighborhoods adjacent to the air base.
The health of the nearby population, including children and older adults is considered. Comments from the public will be taken through Oct. 17.
David Martin, Air Force Civil Engineer project manager was at the hearing part of a panel Wednesday night.
John Jeter, the music director of the Fort Smith Symphony, said he supports the plan for the jet pilot training program.
“I think it will be great for our community financially, it would bring a lot to our community,” Jeter said. “And I think having so many foreign trained professionals which the base is going to be I think will really add quite a bit of flavor to the community.”


Leave a Reply