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Bases in Irene's path scramble to move aircraft

Aug. 26, 2011 - 12:20PM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 26, 2011 - 12:20PM  |  
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The military is evacuating aircraft from several East Coast bases in preparation for Hurricane Irene.

The Times reports that dozens of Air Force fighters and tankers from North Carolina's Seymour Johnson Air Force Base are taking refuge at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

The Air Force moved about 60 F-15E Strike Eagles and seven KC-135R Stratotankers to Barksdale on Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Heather Stanton, with Public Affairs at Seymour Johnson, also said the 5,000 military men and women at that installation are getting ready for possible high winds, flooding and other damage associated with storms.

Barksdale has provided refuge to airplanes for other storms, including 2005's hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2002's Tropical Storm Isidore, 1999's Hurricane Floyd, 1998's Hurricane Bonnie and 1996's Hurricane Bertha.

Air Force transport aircraft and tankers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey are being sent to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

The New Jersey Air National Guard is sending its KC-135 refueling aircraft to a McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

Massachusetts' Westover Air Reserve Base, which serves as a Federal Emergency Management Agency Incident Support Base, is evacuating 18 C-5 transport planes. Base officials say two planes left Thursday and 16 more are scheduled to leave Friday and Saturday to either MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., or Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

More than 100 trailers loaded with bottled water, generators, tarps, food and other emergency supplies are scheduled to arrive at the base Friday and Saturday as FEMA prepares for the hurricane.

Col. Steven Vautrain, 439th Airlift Wing Commander, says when the evacuated aircraft return after the hurricane, they can be used to transport relief supplies.

Capt. Joseph Keith told The Associated Press that for security reasons he couldn't specify how many planes had been brought to McGhee Tyson Air National Guard base outside Knoxville, Tenn. He characterized the traffic as "a lot" and said more was expected at the field.

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