MOUNTAINHOME-- Mountain Home Air Force Base has expanded its air space by 17 percent.

Expanding the air space at the base has been a priority for the greater part of the last decade and today for the first time, pilots got to fly in this new area.

This is a flight that's been eight years in the making.

Today is the day that we've all been waiting for. It's through all the hard work of some of the members of our squadron that's made this happen as well as our partners with the FAA, said Col. Christopher Sage.

Thursday was the first day that Col. Sage with the 366th Fighter Wing was able to fly in new air space.

The air space was expanded from 7,500 square miles to 9,600 square miles. Most of the new air space is to the south.

The way we've trained in the past, we've had good air space but in some ways the air space has been a limiting factor. With this opening up like it is now and the lowering of the floor of the air space in terms of altitude, is going to allow our air crews to do some things that they weren't able to do before, said Byron Schmidt, Chief of Air Space Management, MHAFB.

It's also going to open things up for commercial flights as well.

It allows us to move our training to one air space or the other, which then allows the airliners to expidite their approach into the Boise area, said Sage.

Ultimately, this air space means better training for pilots.

I'm excited for the potential this air space represents. It's going to be great for the 366th Fighter Wing, said Schmidt.

Our job is to train and equip the air crew that are stationed at this base so they can go do the nation's bidding down range, said Sage.

The Air Force is not the only branch of the military that will benefit from this new training grounds. The Marines, the Navy, the Army, will all get to train here as well. Even Singapore will train on these new grounds.

This expanded air space now puts Mountain Home Air Force Base on par and even more competitive with other bases in the Northwest, especially when you consider the unique and open terrain in the area.

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