North Dakota skies choked by MOA constrictor

The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission is keen to keep the Bowman airport open, as the Air Force is planning an ill-timed major expansion of restricted airspace in southwest North Dakota.

Despite a major rush, or boom even, in civil air traffic in the area, the Air Force plans to appropriate the skies of 8 North Dakota counties to expand a training area that until now has been a ways into Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Most states have one or two MOAs that civilian planes have to steer clear of — there’s a major one in northeast North Dakota, north of the Spirit Lake region.  But why the Air Force needs yet more of the sky is puzzling. Has there been a buying spree in bombers and fighters I’m not aware of?  Last I heard the Air Force was mainly being cut.

Anyone who looks at an airspace map of southwestern North Dakota airspace can see that it’s a lot of wide-open county. Sure, there’s a lot of room for everyone. But just taking it for a MOA without giving anything back to civil airspace on the other side is just another appropriation of a public good, for the limited benefit of the few.