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Base maps: Compare encroachment concerns

A planned tribal casino in Airway Heights is being fought by a a broad consortium of groups arguing, among other things, that its proposed location near Fairchild Air Force Base could prompt the Pentagon to close the tanker base.

The Spokane Tribe, which wants to build the casino near the competing Kalispel Tribe’s existing Northern Quest casino, argues the encroachment risk is being greatly exaggerated, and suggests other motives exist for trying to block the project.

Here, via Google satellite maps, is an eye-opening look at a handful of U.S. Air Force bases, including other large tanker installations. We’ll start with Fairchild, located on the sparsely populated West Plains of Spokane County.

Fairchild Air Force Base

Spokane, Wash.

Fairchild employs 5,700 military and civilian personnel who staff or support the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard units flying KC-135 tankers. In 2016, the Air Force will begin replacing those airplanes with the KC-46A, larger planes that will necessitate significant investment at their future bases. The proposed new casino would be built about a mile northeast of the base at the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Craig Road.

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McChord Air Force Base

Tacoma, Wash.

This base, home of the 62nd Airlift Wing, merged with the U.S. Army’s Fort Lewis in 2010 to form Joint Base Lewis McChord, which was part of the last round of the Pentagon’s base closures and realignments. Pacific Lutheran University is located about a mile east of the main runway.

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MacDill Air Force Base

Tampa, Fla.

Home of U.S. Central Command, which oversees Allied operations in the Middle East, and the 927th Air Refueling Wing, this base is located on a small peninsula in Tampa Bay, surrounded by neighborhoods and two large cities, Tampa and St. Petersburg. Residential neighborhoods are located within a half mile of the base’s flight line.

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Tinker Air Force Base

Oklahoma City, Okl.

With about 27,000 military and civilian employees, Tinker is the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma. The base has an annual statewide economic impact of $3.4 billion, and is home to the 507th Air Refueling Wing.

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McConnell Air Force Base

Wichita, Kan.

Home of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, this base is located on the southeast outskirts of Wichita.

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Grand Forks Air Force Base

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Small and remote, this base used to have a refueling wing and North Dakota’s congressional delegation has pushed for it to be considered as the home base for the new generation of tankers that Washington’s congressional delegation wants at Fairchild. It employs 2,100 and is located in the sparsely populated Northern Plans.

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