No-Fly Zone

Montana residents of Cascade County will vote Nov. 4 on whether to authorize county commissioners to issue $3.2 million in general obligation bonds to acquire the rights to develop land at the southern tip of Malmstrom Air Force Base’s runway. Their aim, reports the Great Falls Tribune, is to prevent a proposed housing development that would present an encroachment issue for Malmstrom and essentially thwart efforts to acquire a new flying mission for the base. The Tribune reported Aug. 22 that county commissioners unanimously approved the ballot measure on Aug. 21 to put the matter before the voters. If approved, the bonds would purchase development rights to 233 acres of land, but instead of building homes, the land would be kept in agricultural status to preserve the open space, the newspaper reported. Malmstrom has not had a flying mission since its KC-135 tankers left in 1996. Supporters of a new flying mission cite the area’s high number of flying days, proximity to the US northern border, and the category III runway at Great Falls International Airport. They say it would offset the recent loss of the base’s 564th Missile Squadron as part of US policy to reduce the size of the Minuteman III ICBM fleet from 500 to 450.