Pilots flying within 100 miles of San Antonio, Texas, should remain extremely vigilant for the large number of military training aircraft in the area, some flying as low as 500 feet agl at 400 knots. The ceiling of the training boxes often extends to 18,000 feet. This safety reminder came from Major Cheryl Buehn, chief of flight safety for the U.S. Air Force’s 12th Flying Training Wing, based at Randolph AFB in San Antonio.
During her presentation at the Texas Department of Transportation aviation conference in Dallas earlier this month, Buehn said, “Training is going on in these cockpits inside a number of military operations areas [MOA] and we’re not always looking outside the cockpit for you [non-military aircraft].” She said the 12th trains military student pilots in formation flying, aerobatics and dogfighting.
While the military does fly with a Tcas-like system, Buehn said the slow update rates on the equipment do not really allow them to be used as the only source of collision avoidance. “I know you can legally fly through an MOA,” she said, “but I’m hoping I can explain why that is not a really smart idea. Use traffic advisories whenever possible. It is also worth spending a little extra time with the local charts during your flight planning.”
The predominant aircraft in the area are T-6A Texan IIs, T-38s and T-1s. There are also F-16s in the area from Kelly AFB. “Many are flying at low level and often in formation,” she added. “If you see one, be on the lookout for others of the same type close by.”
Buehn said that while the 12th normally operates Monday through Friday, it also does some weekend flying.