The Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority signed a licensing agreement with the Texas Army National Guard for a series of training sessions that will be take place at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field during a meeting on Thursday. Capt. Michael Hess of the First Battalion of the 143rd Airborne updated the Board on plans for the first training session, which is expected to take place on March 28.

The Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority signed a licensing agreement with the Texas Army National Guard for a series of training sessions that will be take place at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field during a meeting on Thursday. Capt. Michael Hess of the First Battalion of the 143rd Airborne updated the Board on plans for the first training session, which is expected to take place on March 28.


"We are the only airborne battalion in the Army National Guard across the United States," Hess said in a December meeting. "What we do is train on a number of tasks ranging from deployment overseas to the true mission of the National Guard, handling domestic issues here in the United States."


Hess first approached the Board in December with initial plans to conduct an airport seizure scenario at the NTRA where troops will parachute on the field, disable an opposition force, take control of operations, land planes and unload vehicles and additional supplies. Hess called the mission Operation Viking — a reference to NTRA’s northern location relative to the battalion’s Austin base.


Hess said he wanted to conduct the training at NTRA because it is rated to support the aircraft that will be used, and to "facilitate the feel of going somewhere" and introduce training space that is not familiar to the troops.


Current plans call for a six-hour operation involving between four and six aircraft, up to 14 land vehicles and between 350 and 400 National Guard and U.S. Air Force personnel, and cadets from the Texas Tech Reserve Officer Training Corps program, who will act as the opposing forces. Hess said current plans call for the airport to be closed for two hours.


"Our goal is to have a minimum impact to operations here at Perrin Field," said Hess.


The troops will be broken into two assault groups, with about 160 parachuting into the airport from aircraft that will land and deploy land vehicles once the facility is secured. Hess said other potential missions during the operation include a medical evacuation.


Hess said he will work with local law enforcement and emergency services to provide services during the operation. While he hopes there are no problems during the training, Hess said injures including sprained ankles and damage to knees and legs are not uncommon during this type of training.


Airport Director Mike Shahan said he does not expect any major economic impact from the training and views it as a way to assist and support the U.S. armed forces. Hess said there are talks about purchasing fuel for the aircraft while at the airfield for the return trip to Austin.


"If we can support the airport in any way, now or in the future, we are available," said Hess, who said he views the operation as an opportunity for relationship building.


While the airfield will be closed for a portion of the training, Hess encouraged people who were interested to watch from a safe distance.


A second training session is expected to take place in November or December as troops simulate an airport seizure at night.


In a second action, the Board approved a license agreement with Chapter 24 of the International Aerobatic Club for the Lone Star Aerobatic Championship. The contest will be held at NTRA June 12-13 with June 11 set as a practice day and June 14 as an alternate day in the event of rain.


In a separate action, the Board elected Bill Rasor to the position of secretary. The election comes with the departure of Jeff Christie, who previously held the position, from the board. The vacancy on the board created by Christie’s departure was filled by former Denison Mayor Robert Brady, who was appointed by the Grayson County commissioners last week.