A flight of fancy on a windswept field

An almost-forgotten item caused more stir than anything else at Governor Shumlin’s weekly news conference today. Just as spokesflack Susan Allen was bringing down the curtain, Shumlin remembered one more thing:

On Wednesday, I will be flying to Elgin Air Force Base with a group of Vermonters including the Mayor of Burlington and the Mayor of Winooski to listen to the F-35s. I have long said and told Vermonters that the best way to know how much noise they make is to stand there and listen to one.

…During the campaign, I committed to a number of voters who were concerned about the F-35. And I said, ‘When I have more time, I want to go listen to them.” And I am.

Checking the Google, I see it’s actually “Eglin” Air Force Base, down Florida way. (While you’re there, visit the Air Force Armament Museum!)

This announcement provoked a flurry of questions but not much more in the way of illumination. The Governor is a declared supporter of basing F-35s at the Burlington Airport. When asked by Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz if he might change his mind, he deadpanned “If I can’t hear you when I come back, I’m going to change my mind.”

When asked essentially the same question again a few minutes later, he replied:

I’ve been told by informed people that if you fly an F-35 properly, that the noise difference between that and what we’re currently flying in Burlington, the F-16, is not significantly different. I’d like to hear that for myself.

In other words, I’m keeping an open mind but don’t expect it to change.

Stay tuned for more news from today’s presser.  

7 thoughts on “A flight of fancy on a windswept field

  1. Damn, the F16 is a loud plane!

    When The Gov says,

    …if you fly an F-35 properly, that the noise difference between that and what we’re currently flying in Burlington, the F-16, is not significantly different.

    I take that to be a reference to the claim regarding afterburners.  For those unaware, the F16 must use it’s afterburners to get off the ground and that is particularly loud.  Apparently the F35, when not fully loaded for ground attack, can takeoff without the afterburner, which would be quieter.  The critical part of this is that the F35 is already a lot louder than the F16, so it’s not an even match.  

    What I expect The Gov to be listening to is the comparison of the F16 w/afterburners and the F35 without.

    If it is such that the F35 in it’s standard configuration for duty out of Burlington can reliably takeoff without afterburners, then it would not be any great change from what we have now.

    That is a big ‘if’.

    And when The Gov says

    I’d like to hear that for myself.

    I appreciate his doing this, hearing for himself what the differences are.

  2. the F16 was a lot quieter than I remember the F4 to have been.  Course my ears were a little better that long ago.

    I still contend that getting an agreement to not use the burner unless they were flying out of the Plattsburgh facility, which you could argue was designed for that big assed military noise thing.

  3. So the state’s major political action committees, GBIC and LCRCC, are taking on the lowly questioners of the F-35.  A political junket is not a scientific study.  But hey, in the political/business world opinion is more important than facts.  All the questions being asked by those who question the bringing of the F-35 to Vermont come directly from the draft Environmental Impact Statement.  The questions ask for an explanantion for the errors in the scoring process.  They ask for the use of 2010 census data and not 2000 census data.  They ask for scientific studies instead of politcal junkets.  But when the only goal is to sway public opinion regardless of the long term consequences, political junkets are easier and a lot more fun than real research needed to develop hard data.  Another Vermont PAC in action.  Where is the Vermont First lady when the politicians and businessmen need her?

  4. Recordings are easily manipulated.  Thus, any recording by a cadre of F-35 supporters would be suspect at best.  If the GBIC and its fellow-traveler LCRCC have money to spend, it would be much more beneficial for them to hire a health/sound expert to review the available literature and research regarding the health issues related to excessive and prolonged noise.  There are many studies and reports which could easily shed some light on this matter.  A political junket to Florida is just that a politcal junket to Florida.  It has nothing to do with fact-finding, research or data collection.  It is little more than lipstick on the pig!

  5. suggesting that GBIC make the recordings. If the group does not include a journalist (which it should), than a Vermont reporter should contact a colleague in Florida to arrange something.

  6. What I would like to see is a video of a sound pressure meter at several different ranges from the runway for both the F-16 and F-35.  We could do this now for the F-16s by setting up outside the BTV fence and in neighborhoods under the air lanes.  Heck there are even SPL apps for iPhones!  This could be crowdsourced.

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