Public comment period to re-open for Michigan Air National Guard airspace reconfiguration

  • Published
  • By Capt. Andrew Layton
  • Alpena CRTC

A public comment period will re-open Nov. 15 for the Michigan Air National Guard’s proposal to reconfigure charted airspace available for military aircrews to meet current training requirements. The proposal is a culmination of years-long coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Guard Bureau and local communities to modify existing military operating areas (MOAs) at low and medium altitudes and create some new MOAs on a limited basis within the Alpena Special Use Airspace (SUA).

“This proposal is a singular initiative that has been a priority for the Michigan Air National Guard since approximately 2014,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, assistant adjutant general and commander of the Michigan Air National Guard. “We have worked hard to thoroughly coordinate this reconfiguration at the national, state and local levels for the sole purpose of ensuring our military aircrews are prepared for the rapidly evolving complexity of modern combat.”

The Alpena SUA complex was originally charted during the Korean and Vietnam War eras. Though commonly referred to as the largest overland training airspace east of the Mississippi, it lacks the altitude and complexity U.S. aircrews need to maintain and develop proficiency with twenty-first century tactics.

The Michigan ANG opened one public comment period for the airspace in 2019, which solicited public feedback on the proposal from Michigan communities, local authorities and private citizens.

“The Michigan Air National Guard is, first and foremost, a community-based organization. We’d like to thank those that provided feedback for being constructive partners in this process,” said Teff. “We are grateful for the input we received in 2019 from local townships and residents, which has allowed us to refine this proposal to include ideas from the citizens we are ultimately here to serve.”

Changes from the 2019 proposal include:
• Implementing a one-mile buffer around the “thumb” region’s Lake Huron shoreline that will prohibit military aircraft from flying lower than 1,500 ft. during peak vacation and tourism seasons.
• Excluding access by F-35 fighters to the Steelhead Low MOAs over Michigan’s “thumb” region.
• Raising the minimum altitude for the Steelhead Low South MOA to 4,000 ft. to accommodate civilian and commercial flight air patterns in the thumb region.
• Eliminating six miles of military training airspace from the north side of the Grayling West MOA.
• Raising the minimum altitude from 7,000 ft. to 10,000 ft. in the Grayling East MOA to deconflict with north/south civilian flight traffic.

The public comment period comes with the completion of the National Guard Bureau’s Environmental Analysis for the proposal, which can be viewed in its entirety at the following link:

The reconfigured airspace is projected for official charting by the FAA in late summer 2023. The public comment period will remain open until Dec. 15, 2022 (30 days).

For more information or questions, please contact the Michigan National Guard public affairs office: