The skies over Lebanon County witnessed an invisible change last month as Muir Army Airfield transitioned to Muir Army Heliport, effective July 21.

This redesignation, greenlit by the U.S. Army Aeronautical Services Agency, aims to elevate safety standards and maintain the heliport’s bustling traffic.

Initially established in the 1930s, Muir once operated with fewer regulatory constraints. But the landscape of aviation standards evolved over the years. In 2012, due to the close proximity of adjacent buildings, rugged terrain, and training zones, Muir was declared unfit for storing fixed-wing aircraft, like planes.

Heliport manager at Muir AHP, Joshua Dietrich, views the change positively. “This change is a good thing, allowing us to maintain our activity and be in better compliance,” he said in a press release.

“Overall, this change will allow for better safety compliance and allow the heliport to maintain its heavy traffic flow.”

Helicopters and planes have varying safety requirements. With this transition, Muir AHP meets both the Federal Aviation Administration and Army criteria for helicopters.

Col. Timothy Zerbe, state army aviation officer, added, “The redesignation from an airfield to a heliport enhances safety measures and optimizes operations for heavy helicopter traffic flow at Muir, aligning with established FAA and Army standards for helicopter operations.”

“As an experienced Army aviator, I believe this change ensures safe flight operations and improved efficiency for our military-use heliport.”

Serving as the base for the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site and the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, Muir AHP ranks as the Army’s second busiest military-use heliport. Officials have said that this new designation won’t affect its traffic intensity.

Muir AHP pays homage to Maj. Gen. Charles H. Muir, the commanding general of the 28th Infantry Division during World War I.

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