Some mil­i­tary he­li­copters will dom­i­nate Valley skies Thurs­day, but don’t worry

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Tom Shortell

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.

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