Several Brentwood residents have contacted BHP for an explanation on the seemingly increased presence of military-style helicopters above the city.
“Oh my GOODNESS!, did [the] Brentwood Police Dept. get a new ‘chopper for a gift?’ reader Valerie Eagan Mangrum posted on BHP’s Facebook page. “Why has a helicopter been circling over Brentwood every night??”
Mangrum said the helicopters pass by daily, sometimes solo, other times in groups. She contacted the city and other emergency organizations in the region, yet no one seemed to know why or where the helicopters were coming from.
“And they go in loops and back & forth (north to south) … All I hear every day, though, is pup-pup-pup-pup.”
BHP searched for answers, then found this May 15 article on NPR that explained the helicopters are a result of the Tennessee National Guard relocating its airfield from the Smyrna Airport to the Berry Field Air National Guard Base at the Nashville airport in Donelson.
BHP spoke with the Tennessee Military Department’s director of joint public affairs Randy Harris, who had some good news for residents tired of the sound of propellers overhead.
“We’re about 90 percent finished with the current training going on now,” he said. “The increased traffic should decline drastically over the next few days.”
The Tennessee National Guard recently moved its headquarters to Berry Field in Nashville as a cost-cutting measure because its former location in Smryna had ‘World War II era’ infrastructure, and lacked the space to store all of the Guard’s helicopters.
Since it would have cost $70 million to renovate the Smryna Airport, Harris said it made far more sense to move its operations to Berry Field, where facilities there were under-utilized.
And he said the increased traffic over the last week or so has been the result of about 50-60 pilots learning the approach and departure lanes at the Nashville Airport.
“We had to train all the pilots in the unit,” he said. “They’ve been going day and night because they have to become familiar with both day and night approaches and departures. The training makes sure they can safely negotiate those lanes in to and out of Nashville.”
Harris also said as a result of the relocation, the Tennessee Army National Guard has been able to pair with the Tennessee Air National Guard, which is another cost-saving measure.
Both departments train for wartime missions on a federal and state level. They serve both the President and Secretary of State, as well as the Tennessee Governor, in times of emergencies like search and rescue or surveillance, Harris said.
Jonathan Romeo covers Brentwood for Home Page Media Group. Contact him at [email protected].