The Washington Army National Guard is starting its move into the Pangborn Airport Executive Flight building.

The Guard has been paying rent since last September but will launch operations at the airport in June.

Facilities Commander Captain Taylor Payne says they'll provide wildfire response from Pangborn in support of the state Department of Natural Resources.

"The fire has to get to pretty high up-tempo for us to get called in," said Payne. "Because once we get called in by the state, that's when DNR assets are needing that extra push and that extra help."

The Army National Guard will start its move-in on June 4, with a ribbon cutting and public open house set for June 22. The Guard plans to be fully operational at the Executive Flight building by July 1.

The National Guard is relocating to Pangborn from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane.

The move is being made for two reasons. First, the state has asked for a centralized operation for medevac and fire season support since DNR already operates in the Wenatchee area. Second, the move will allow the Air Force to use the hangar at the Fairchild base being vacated by the National Guard for its own expansion.

The National Guard also plans to use the Pangborn base as an intermediate spot for its Washington west-side aircraft to be staged during emergencies.

Payne said 20-25 full-time jobs will be coming with the personnel handling maintenance of a fleet of nine helicopters that'll be stationed at Pangborn. The fleet includes six UH-72 Lakota helicopters and three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

The local economy is seen as a big winner in the move. For one weekend a month, roughly 100-110 reservists will visit the Wenatchee Valley for training, which means potential hotel and restaurant dollars.

The Guard has a 10-year lease for the Executive Flight building with an option for five more one-year terms.

The Guard will pay $31,304 monthly, or $375,653 annually, with a 3.5% annual rent increase.

The lease is with the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority, which owns and operates the airport.

In addition, a parcel is being negotiated between the Port and the Guard where the Guard plans to build a 60,000-square-foot hanger in the future.

Image of Pnagborn layout for National Guard buildings from Army National Goard
Image of Pnagborn layout for National Guard buildings from Army National Goard

The Guard is planning to ask for up to $35 million in federal money to build the hangar on 23.4 acres on the west side of the runway.

Payne said the personnel that'll be stationed at the Executive Flight building are excited about the move-in.

"Absolutely," said Payne with a chuckle. "The army goes a little light on the spending when it comes to new buildings and whatnot. So, when we saw that we were leasing an executive flight facility from the Port, we were overjoyed with the quality of the building."