GYPSUM, Colo. (CBS4)– The premiere high altitude aviation training facility in the U.S. has opened in Colorado. The Colorado Army National Guard post celebrated the opening of the new building on Friday after two years of construction.
The facility is the product of a decade of planning. It’s known as HAATS and is located at the Eagle County Airport.
“Our primary mission is to teach power management and mountain flying techniques for rotary wing aviators from the United States Army, all components as well as other branches,” Colorado Air National Guard Lt. Col. Josh Day said.
The new $40 million school house replaces a small, simple hangar that housed HAATS for nearly 30 years.
“It wasn’t designed for Army helicopter maintenance so we really needed the maintenance space and facility and because we’re a schoolhouse and obviously we have classroom space. Six to 34 rooms,” Day said.
The new facility can hold multiple helicopters in the hangar and teach more than 400 pilots each year.
“What happens is when you go up in altitude and the temperature increases the performance of the helicopter decreases. Engine performance is degraded and lift performance on the rotor blades is degraded,” said Day.
“We know that we have some of the greatest professionals and best trained people there at our disposal to help when we have situations where we have to call on them,” said Sara Fisher, an Eagle County commissioner.
“Primary research and rescue is what we do for the state out of this facility but we’ve also done firefighting and flood relief,” said
Now with a permanent building HAATS is sure to help the community for decades to come.
“They can rest easy there is a more competent aviator flying around in the mountains of Colorado because they are flying the taxpayer’s equipment,” said Day.
“These men and women make a difference in our lives every day. Both here in Colorado and all over the world,” said Fisher.
Building the facility also boosted the local economy because all of the construction companies used are local.