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Air Guard No Longer Grounded By Shutdown

After two weeks on the ground, the Vermont Air National Guard’s pilots are taking off once again this week despite the continuing government shutdown.

Capt. Dyana Allen, a spokeswoman for the guard, said the Air National Guard is resuming training operations so their skills don’t fade.

“They have been directed by the Director of Air National Guard that they will fly to maintain readiness levels,” Allen said.

Allen said the Air Guard’s F-16s will be heard over Burlington again by the end of the week.

The majority of Vermont National Guard and Air National Guard personnel have been working and paid since they came back to work Oct. 7 because of a new interpretation of federal law. They haven’t been able to do very much, though, because they’re not allowed to take on any new expenses during the shutdown. Purchases of fuel, mechanical parts and ammunition were all suspended as of Oct. 1.

The new direction from the head of the Air National Guard allows flight operations and any logistical support required for those operations, Allen said. That includes fuel and mechanical purchases.

Though the F-16 pilots have been grounded for just over two weeks, they’ve been coming to work for other duties at the Air National Guard’s headquarters at Burlington International Airport, Allen said.