Florida charters will help boats steer clear of Air Force testing

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Local charterboats will help the Air Force with munitions testing for the next few weeks.

The Air Force’s 96th Operations Group will run bombing tests through Sept. 13 in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 nautical miles south of Destin, Fla., as part of the 53rd Wing’s Maritime Strike Program, according to The Destin Log.

The Air Force commissioned 25 local boats to protect the mission area. The boats and their crews will mark the border and warn approaching vessels to stay out of the drop zone.

An independent contractor pays the charter captains to help with the tests. Westbrook said his boats still will be used for fishing on the weekends during the test weeks.

He said he doesn’t make as much money as he would chartering fishing trips this time of year, but that helping the military can be a welcome paycheck during the offseason.

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