Purpose The purpose of this study was to create an air movement operations planning model to rapidly generate air mission request (AMR) assignment and routing courses of action (COA) in order to minimize unsupported AMRs, aircraft utilization and routing cost. Design/methodology/approach In this paper, the US Army Aviation air movement operations planning problem is modeled as a mixed integer linear program (MILP) as an extension of the dial-a-ride problem (DARP). The paper also introduces a heuristic as an extension of a single-vehicle DARP demand insertion algorithm to generate feasible solutions in a tactically useful time period. Findings The MILP model generates optimal solutions for small problems (low numbers of AMRs and small helicopter fleets). The heuristic generates near-optimal feasible solutions for problems of various sizes (up to 100 AMRs and 10 helicopter team fleet size) in near real time. Research limitations/implications Due to the inability of the MILP to produce optimal solutions for mid- and large-sized problems, this research is limited in commenting on the heuristic solution quality beyond the numerical experimentation. Additionally, the authors make several simplifying assumptions to generalize the average performance and capabilities of aircraft throughout a flight. Originality/value This research is the first to solve the US Army Aviation air movement operations planning problem via a single formulation that incorporates multiple refuel nodes, minimization of unsupported demand by priority level, demand time windows, aircraft team utilization penalties, aircraft team time windows and maximum duration and passenger ride time limits.