Sioux Gateway Airport
The 185th Fighter Wing (FW) of the Iowa Air National Guard (IANG) occupies 287 acres on the southeast side of the Sioux Gateway Airport, located approximately 10 miles south of downtown Sioux City, Iowa. The mission of the 185th FW is threefold: to provide structure, training, resources, facilities and equipment in support of the total force; to provide equipment and trained personnel to meet the emergency and humanitarian needs of the citizens of Iowa; and to actively participate in local, regional and national initiatives and programs that add value to the Siouxland Community. The unit currently flies the F-16 Falcon. The 185th FW occupies 7 administrative and 38 industrial buildings (no services facilities) totaling approximately 359,000 square feet with 350 full-time personnel. Unit training drills conducted twice each month result in a surge of up to 970 personnel. Plans are currently in development to bring in KC-135 aircraft in the 2004 timeframe. This conversion, if implemented, will require modification to the existing hangar and construction of an additional hangar plus supporting petroleum storage and distribution facilities.
Sioux Gateway Airport, located in Sioux City, IA, is the main commercial airport for over 311,000 travelers in the tri-state area known as Siouxland - a 15 county area in northwestern Iowa, northeastern Nebraska, and southeastern South Dakota. In 1988, Sioux Gateway Airport had ten daily jet flights with service to Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. Now, there are only two jet departures a day. Since the advent of deregulation in 1978, enplanements at Sioux Gateway have fallen from 113,000 per year to 90,000 in 1998. Air service has deteriorated causing passenger enplanements to decrease while, nationally, total domestic passenger enplanements more than doubled. Northwest Airlines is the only carrier in the market that provides commercial jet service. All Northwest flights are routed from Sioux City to their hub in Minneapolis. Commuter service is provided by Northwest Airlink (operated by Mesaba Airlines) to Minneapolis and Trans World Express (operated by Trans States Airlines) to St. Louis.
On 19 July 1989 somewhere over Iowa, the crew on United Airlines Flight 232 discovered something was terribly wrong. An engine failure had led to a total failure of the hydraulic system, and the flight controls were inoperative. The rear engine had blown out. The loss of this engine's thrust was not central to the mayhem that followed. In fact, the two other engines slung under the wings remained sufficient for somewhat regular flight. But the hydraulic system had vanished. The ailerons, rudders, elevators, spoilers, leading edge, steering, and brakes simply quit working. The crew had literally lost control of the DC-10. The event made national news for weeks and months after the plane crashed to the ground at Sioux Gateway Airport. The airplane skidded to the right of the runway and rolled to an inverted position. Witnesses said the airplane ignited and did a cartwheel, coming to rest after crossing the runway. Firefighting and rescue operations began immediately, but the airplane was destroyed by impact and fire. Although 111 persons were killed, a total of 185 people emerged from the corn fields or were pulled from the wreckage still alive. It was no accident that Sioux City did right things right. They had just completed a mock emergency exercise and the procedures were fresh in their minds.
Secretary of Defense Recommendations: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Fairchild AFB, WA. As a result, the 141st Air Refueling Wing's eight KC-135R aircraft would be distributed to the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Sioux Gateway Airport AGS.
Secretary of Defense Justification: In distributing KC-135R force structure to Sioux Gateway Air Guard Station (67), the Air Force applied military judgment in replacing aging, higher maintenance KC-135E force structure at Sioux Gateway with newer models to increase the unit's capability and retain trained, experienced aircrews and maintenance technicians.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: While the Commission found that the community had no specific concerns regarding this recommendation, the Commission noted that the 141st Air Refueling Wing (ANG) is prepared to associate with the Active Duty's 92d Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild AFB. The Commission recognized the stewardship of the 141st ARW and strongly supports the placement of the new tanker aircraft with the 141st to lead the force. The Commission further found that the Secretary of Defense's overall intent and concept of redistributing the ANG KC-135s out of Fairchild AFB was supportable.
This recommendation directing aircraft movement and personnel actions in connection with Air National Guard installations and organizations is designed to support the Future Total Force. The Commission expects that the Air Force will find new missions where needed, provide retraining opportunities, and take appropriate measures to limit possible adverse personnel impact. The Commission's intent is that the Air Force will act to assign sufficient aircrew and maintenance personnel to units gaining aircraft in accordance with current, established procedures. However, the Commission expects that all decisions with regard to manpower authorizations will be made in consultation with the governor of the state in which the affected Air National Guard unit is located. Any manpower changes must be made under existing authorities, and must be made consistent with existing limitations. Some reclassification of existing positions may be necessary, but should not be executed until the Air Force and the state have determined the future mission of the unit to preclude unnecessary personnel turbulence. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
Commission Recommendations: N/A
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