Some military helicopters will dominate Valley skies Thursday, but don’t worry
An armada of Army helicopters will soar through local skies Thursday as the Lehigh Valley International Airport will serve as a transition point for personnel and equipment heading to Afghanistan.
Colin Riccobon, a spokesman for the LehighNorthampton Airport Authority, said a total of 23 Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters will be moving through the area between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
“People should not be alarmed,” he said. “This is part of a planned exercise.”
The military often uses LVIA to practice takeoffs and landings for military jets and other aircraft, said Tom Stoudt, the authority’s executive director. Because the federal government provides significant funding to improvements at LVIA, it has free access to its runways. But those exercises usually involve just a handful of aircraft, making Thursday’s activity unusual. Stoudt, who has worked at the airport since 1996, could not recall this many military aircraft coming and going from the airport at once.
Lt. Victoria Goldfedib, a public affairs officer with the 10th Mountain Division Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Drum, N.Y., said the aircraft will be moving through the region on its way to an undisclosed East Coast port. From there, the brigade will be deployed to Afghanistan as part of a counter-terrorism mission. The brigade will use the airport to rest and refuel. Depending on the weather, locals may see the military aircraft come and go into the holiday weekend, Goldfedib said.