Military


Butts Army Air Field (AAF)

The Butts Army Air Field (AAF) is an active runway and hangar facility used primarily by Army rotary-wing aircraft.

In early 1949, landing an aircraft at Camp Carson was extremely hazardous. A bumpy dirt strip on the edge of the post was the only facility available. Dust often decreased the visibility to zero. Appropriations in the fall of that year allowed for the bulldozing of a new dirt strip and construction of a small wooden operations shack. However, aircraft maintenance had to be done in the open and the wind still made landing and taking off hazardous. As a result of the uncertain conditions at the Carson strip, the first Army aircraft operated by post personnel were based in a single hangar at Peterson Field. In 1954, air operations were moved to an area now in NCO housing. Winds of 60 knots or better were common, making the approach over the hospital complex extremely tricky. There were no hangars either. When high winds came up, trucks had to be parked beside the aircraft to protect them.

Two years later, air operations were again relocated, this time to a mesa strip adjacent to today's Butts Army Airfield. There was one building on Mesa Air Strip, but it was dilapidated. Eventually a T-shaped pre-fab hangar was constructed; but by the time it was completed, it was already obsolete. Appropriations for modern improvements were made in the fall of 1963. Three years and nearly $3 million later, Butts Field was a modern airfield.

Mountain Thunder is a joint training exercise for airmen, soldiers and Marines from Colorado and Texas. Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson AFB and the Army's Medical Troop Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment at Fort Carson, Colo., conduct. Members of the Air National Guard from Buckley ANG Base, Colo., and Marine reservists from the Fixed Wing Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (UMFA-112) from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, join in the exercise. In June 1999 four of the 302nd AW's C-130H-3 aircraft participated in the exercise, traveling fully loaded with Army personnel carriers and Humvees from Butts Army Airfield to Pinon Canyon. Once at Pinon Canyon airstrip, aerial porters from the Reserve wing's 39th Aerial Port Squadron went into action off loading equipment.

Fort Carson's Environmental and Logistics directorates established a Hazardous Materials Control Center (HMCC). The HMCC's comprehensive shelf-life management program has extended the shelf life of more than 12,000 items, resulting in a cost avoidance of $255,563 in Fiscal 1999. In addition, the HMCC turned in hazardous materials to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO) for a disposal cost avoidance of $58,636. These materials were reissued, transferred, donated or sold to environmentally compliant users. The program has grown from one squadron at Butts Army Airfield to encompassing the entire installation infrastructure.

Fort Carson is the first Federal facility to install a "solar wall"-a solar ventilation air preheating system. The solar wall heats Fort Carson's new high-bay aviation maintenance facility at Butts Army Airfield by pre-warming air as much as 54 degrees fahrenheit and supplying the heated air to the building's central heating system. This collector system is especially advantageous for buildings that require large volumes of heated air.

The system cost $140,000 to design, build, and install. The unglazed collector consists of 7800 square feet of sheet metal dotted with tiny holes. It is mounted several inches from the wall on the south side of the hanger. The collector warms the outside air as it flows through the holes. As the air rises in the space between the wall and the collector, it is drawn into the building's air duct system. The building's central heating system then boosts the temperature to the desired level.

The estimated annual savings in natural gas is $11,000. In addition to energy savings, the solar collector improves indoor air quality, adding to occupant safety and comfort. It requires virtually no maintenance, an important consideration for Federal facilities where maintenance dollars are in short supply. Because the incoming air is already heated significantly above ambient temperatures, smaller heating systems are required, significantly reducing costs.



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