Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) is a United States Air Force range and air-ground training complex, located east of the City of Avon Park, Florida. The range was first opened during World War II under the name Avon Park Army Air Field. APAFR consists of approximately 106,000 acres of which about 82,000 acres are open to the public for recreation. APAFR includes Avon Park Air Force Auxiliary Field, also known as MacDill Air Force Base Auxiliary Field, which consists of an 8,000 foot main runway, an operational control tower, an aircraft rescue and firefighting facility, and limited ramp and hangar facilities. There are no published instrument approach procedures and the airfield is limited to Visual Flight Rule (VFR) operations only.
APAFR serves as the primary training range for Homestead Air Reserve Base, and also is an important range for Patrick, MacDill, and Moody Air Force Bases, routinely hosting numerous squadron/unit level deployments from across the country. Training requirements include low level flights, night vision training, and the firing of many different types of weaponry across the full spectrum of Air Force assets.
The host unit for APAFR is the Deployed Unit Complex (DUC), 23rd Wing, Detachment 1, which is a unit of the 23d Wing (23 WG), an Air Combat Command (ACC) composite fighter and rescue wing located at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. In addition to the APAFR, the DUC also oversees a flight line facility at nearby MacDill AFB for transient military flight crews, maintenance crews, and aircraft utilizing the APAFR. This permits visiting squadrons to have ready access to APAFR while concurrently taking advantage of the more robust billeting and maintenance support capabilities at MacDill.
The Air Force nominated APAFR for a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) in 2006 with Central Florida Regional Planning Council (Council) serving as the study sponsor. The Council represents seven local jurisdictions surrounding the APAFR. The largest public stakeholders are the counties of Highland, Polk, Osceola, and Okeechobee. The remaining three jurisdictions are the largest towns —Avon Park, Frostproof, and Sebring. Population growth in the areas surrounding the range continues to increase, posing a potential current and future risk to the military mission operations through residential exposure to noise and safety concerns and increased levels of ambient artificial lighting from urban development. These threats can directly impact the military's ability to fly low altitude missions, perform low ambient light activities and expend explosive ordnance.
The JLUS was completed November 2010. The recommendations identified in the JLUS provide the local governments and the Council a framework for implementation of measures to protect APAFR from future land use conflicts that could threaten its mission. The JLUS includes recommendations for local governments to incorporate Military Operating Area and Military Influence Area development requirements into their planning documents and comprehensive plans. Cooperation with conservation agencies to create buffer zones through acquisition of conservation easements also is recommended. Additional actions include real estate disclosure and formal communication between the communities and range officials to ensure compatibility reviews of proposed development.
Community Website: www.cfrpc.org/JLUS-AvonParkAFR