BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Army National Guard broke ground on a new $14 million Bangor Aviation Readiness Center on Tuesday that will complement the Army Aviation Support Facility on Hayes Street, according to Army Guard spokeswoman Staff Sgt. Rhonda Russell.
“It’s a world class facility that will really offer more classrooms and help with training,” she said, shortly after the shovels hit the ground.
Capt. Nathan Arnold, the new commander of the 126th Aviation Medevac unit, Lt. Col. Dwaine Drummond, director of facilities engineering, Col. Jack Moser and other dignitaries were on hand for the groundbreaking of the facility that is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014.
The new 52,850-square foot facility, a design-build construction project awarded to ITSI Gilbane Company, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., will replace classrooms that were constructed 70 years ago, Russell said. The facility is located at Bangor International Airport.
“Right now, they’re housed in 1940s buildings with no air conditioning,” she said.
On days like Tuesday, when temperatures reached into the 90s, “It is so hot in there, it’s ridiculous,” Russell said of the current classrooms.
The old classrooms also do not have modern equipment, such as computers and audio-visual devices, needed to train the helicopter pilots of today, she said.
“It’s all about providing the technical portion of [their training],” Russell said.
Three aviation units based at the Bangor Army Guard base, which is located on Bangor International Airport, will use the new facility. Arnold, who has deployed three times with the medevac unit he now commands, has been an advocate for the multi-million dollar training center project.
“He’s no stranger to aviation and he’s really been pushing to have this technology available for the aviation units,” Russell said.