ARMY Aviation Support & St Cloud MN Blackhawk Facility
In 2009 the Army National Guard built a $37.2 million 80,000 square foot hangar to house Blackhawk and Chinook Helicopters. The massive building was constructed on 52 acres of land at the St. Cloud Regional Airport in Sherburne County St. Cloud Minnesota.
The new facility was necessary to be built as the National Guard ran out of space at Holman Field in St. Paul. Mostly the helicopters will be flying to Camp Ripley just north of Little Falls Minnesota. Major Shawn Manke said "...what this facility is doing is allowing us to have another facility for training, take some of the pressure off the facility in St. Paul and then allow us to be dual roles so you can support from both areas."
We live within a few miles of the St. Cloud Regional Airport and it has been an amazing addition to everyday life to see some of these helicopters flying overhead. The Chinook is massive, it is no surprise that for every hour of flight they need 4 hours of maintenance. At first it took a little bit to get used to seeing the occasional Blackhawk overhead, not living in a war zone (thank God) but we are now very fond of our new neighbors and enjoy seeing them pass by, sometime close enough to wave at a crewmember.
The Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) has more than 50 full time employees who are stationed at St. Cloud and there have been many other ancillary jobs created as a result of the new facility too.
As a side note, I would like to thank the 80 brave men and women of the St. Cloud-based Company B, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment. We have just been informed that they will begin a 10-month deployment in Iraq early next year after receiving two months of training at Fort Hood, Texas. While this is a non combat mission it is their 2nd deployment over to the region. They will be flying CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters to "assist the movement of troops, equipment and supplies for support of maneuver, combat and combat-service support operations." This is part of Operation New Dawn the name given to the draw down of our U.S. Military troops in Iraq. We thank them for their service and look forward to their safe return home.