By Gabriel Monte, Freedom New Mexico
Cannon Air Force Base is lending its airfield to aircraft from nearby air bases to practice maneuvers while the base continues its transition to a special operations base, according to base officials.
A C-17 cargo plane circled around the air base Wednesday while practicing holding patterns and touch-and-go maneuvers. Cannon Public Affairs Commander Capt. Mae-Li Allison said the aircraft was most likely from Altus Air Force Base from Altus, Okla.
During a touch-and-go maneuver, an aircraft lands on the runway then takes off as soon as it touches the tarmac, according to Allison.
Allowing aircraft assigned to other bases to use the base for maneuvers also provides training opportunities for radar and control tower personnel at Cannon, according to Allison. She said aircraft train at the airfield for a day and go back to their bases.
“There’s hardly any airplanes over here so it provides an opportunity to train over here,” she said. “(When more aircraft are assigned to Cannon) it’s safe to say there will be fewer visiting aircraft doing pattern work and touch and goes here.”
Allison said there are currently six MC-130W combat spears and four PC-12 aircraft assigned to Cannon. She said the aircraft are flying missions from Cannon and practice in the evening.
“The majority of their operations when deployed are at night so that’s when they need to train,” she said.
Air Force Special Operations Command officials said previously as many as 100 aircraft may be stationed at Cannon by 2014, including MC-130s and AC-130s, unmanned air surveillance Predators, PC-12s and CV-22 Ospreys.