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Does Tribe’s Proposed Casino Present Risk of Encroachment to Fairchild?

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  • December 8, 2011
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In the latest example of a community contemplating moving forward with a planned development that could imperil the military value of a local installation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians is planning to build a casino, hotel and shopping area in a flight path used by Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

A commentary in the Spokesman-Review argues that while the FAA has stated the project would not be an obstruction to flights, it still could hinder military training. At some point in the future, the Air Force may unilaterally change its flight paths or the tribe might ask officials to alter pilots’ flight patterns to avoid overflying the casino. The bottom line, according to Fred Zitterkopf, a former base engineer at Fairchild, is that encroachment is the next most significant factor in evaluating a base, after mission.

While Fairchild is well protected currently, it would have to outperform other tanker bases to avoid closure in the event of a future BRAC round. Is the casino worth the risk of losing the base, he asks.

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