Road Trip

I can’t say I’ve cared much for the way in which location of the F-35’s at Burlington Airport has been promoted by the Vermont power base.  

It sounds too much like the manner in which ill-advised development projects have all too frequently been greased through the works on economic arguments, allowing things like “offsets” to inadequately address environmental impacts.

Put simply: I distrust the process.  

I have no definite opinion as to whether or not the F-35 basing should be accepted; but I distrust the process.  

There is something very uncomfortable in seeing the legitimate concerns of South Burlington persistently minimized by those who won’t have to cope so intimately with the impacts of a possible location.

Now we learn that South Burlington officials have been excluded from a planned junket to Florida to see and hear the planes in action.  

Here we have Frank Cioffi’s Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation and developer Ernie Pomerleau, footing the bill to fly Governor Shumlin, Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington, and Mayor Mike O’Brian of Winooski to Florida so that they can have a live encounter with the F-35.

That may make some sense for Mayor O’Brian, who maintains that he needs “more information” in order to sign-off on the plan; but if GBIC was planning the trip anyway, wouldn’t it have made more sense to bring along the City Council Chair of the airport’s home City?  

Seven Days quotes South Burlington City Council Chair Roseanne Greco who, with the majority of the Council, opposes the F-35 siting in South Burlington:

“I’d like to go only because I’d like to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with the governor and both mayors about the F-35,” Greco says. “Going to hear aircraft in another location that is still in testing to see if I personally find the noise too loud, too soft, just right, is, I think, a waste of time.”

Well, exactly.

You may recall that back in 2010, when the controversy first came to light, I speculated

… about the “variables.”  I’m no scientist, but it occurs to me that the topography, geology and other factors, which are specific to the region over which the F-35’s are to be deployed, might have a critical relationship to how the decibel level might play out in that region.

Perhaps I have missed something, but so far I am unaware of any conversation about bringing the plane to South Burlington’s airspace for a demonstration of the sound experience in various modes, before the very people who will have to live with it.

There well may be constraints on the practicality of such a demonstration; but imagining that demos staged for a select and favorable audience in a location not remotely similar to Burlington should somehow serve to answer critics?  That’s utter nonsense.

Not only are the circumstances relatively valueless to the debate but the optics are terrible.

Get a clue, Gentlemen.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

12 thoughts on “Road Trip

  1. Does the GBIC get some of its money from state and/or federal funds?  If yes, does this mean that we, the taxpayers, are paying for this fiasco?  Doug Hoffer where are you?

    Good column, Sue.

  2. I am curious what kind of group reaction photo they will provide to the media to demonstrate that the jets aren’t too loud.

    Possible caption:Here are officials X,Y and Z watching the F-35 take off and as you can clearly see it isn’t too loud.

  3. I’ve been thinking about that one since I posted last, the effect of geography on sound waves. I believe that there is a way to measure the sound in one place and be able to expect similar results in almost any area.

    If one were to set up a sound pressure level meter at a set distance directly behind the planes, say 500 feet, and have them do, say 5 takeoffs each, then average those, I’d be willing to go with those stats.

    You would have to account for numerous factors, such as humidity level and elevation at the location and time of recording, as those will have a effect on the distance of sound propagation. The huge quonset hangers would have a localized slapback and thus an amplifying effect right nearby, also whether the trees have leaves on them, all of these would have some effect.

    If they see it out on a wide open flat plain, where the sound is free to run, it won’t sound as loud as it would in Burlington.

    For this trip to be serious they do need to be aware of the difference in elevation, humidity, nearby ground cover and sound-reflective buildings, and yes terrain, at the testing location where The Gov will see the dog-n-pony show.

  4. .. who would change positions on this issue based on the relative loudness of the F-35 to the F-16? The F-16’s are really loud and if the F-35 is somewhat to a lot louder it’s still going to be loud.  

  5. the caption would be in ALL CAPS if it was really loud.

    Standard capitalization rules would apply if the sound was like the F16.

    all lower case if it was quiet (shhhh! we are whunting whabbits).

  6. Nice to have you on the job.  So basically we, the taxpayers, are footing the bill for this “research trip.”  I sm sure that GBIC will claim that they are not using taxpayer money, but the fact is money is money.  A dip into their bank account, is a dip into their bank account.  Clearly the state should not be giving GBIC any money!

  7. It seems that the F35 w/out afterburners is less loud than the F16 w/afterburners.  The question is: how much less loud (if at all) and can the F35 rigged for regular BTV duty always take of w/out the afterburners?

    There is a chance that the F35 might actually be less loud, but again, that’s a big if…

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