Sound of freedom about to get a lot louder

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Kenny Wilder
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 12:22 pm

Eglin AFB’s new F-35
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November 1, 2008

Sound of freedom about to get a lot louder

Eglin AFB's new F-35 contingent will rattle more windows than the F-15s being replaced

Travis Griggs
Pensacola News Journal
tgriggs@pnj.com


When the Joint Strike Fighter training program arrives at Eglin Air Force Base in 2010, it will bring 113 high-tech aircraft, 6,068 military members and families, hundreds of millions of dollars — and noise.
Lots of noise.

The F-35 will be two to three times louder than the F-15 it is replacing, according to an Air Force report that outlines the expected environmental impact of the JSF program on the areas surrounding Eglin.

Some 6,000 people in Valparaiso and Niceville — including those in three schools and two hospitals — will be exposed to levels of noise "generally incompatible with residential use," the report says.

And, after the training program is up to speed in 2016, there will be up to 122 sorties per day, five days a week — three times as many as now, the report also says.

Some nearby residents are bristling at the increased noise.

"It's bad enough the way it is now," said Valparaiso resident Pat Herrin, 66. "When they take off, it shakes your house and it rattles your windows. And if you're outside, you can't talk to the person sitting next to you.
"We built this home, me and my husband, so we want to stay here. But we just don't know what we're going to do."

Others, already accustomed to the sight and sound of aircraft circling overhead, are looking forward to the accompanying benefits of millions of dollars being injected into the local economy.

"The planes don't bother me," said Audrey Grimes, 87, who lives near the end of an Eglin runway. "They're learning to protect us, and I had two husbands who were pilots, so I can't complain."

In nearby Fort Walton Beach, the City Council passed a resolution supporting the move of the program to Eglin.

No residents have come forward with negative input, Mayor Mike Anderson said.

Nowhere to hide
While communities immediately north of Eglin will bear the brunt of the noise, other communities won't be immune.

Currently, fighter aircraft from Eglin rarely use low-level military training routes that stretch across the Panhandle and into southern Alabama. But after the JSF program arrives, the report estimates that two flights per day will round the circuit, flying low and fast over rural areas and small towns.

Flying at 500 feet and at 575 mph, the F-35 will be three times louder than an F-15 flying at the same altitude.

"The sudden overflight and noise would be expected to annoy rural residents," the Air Force report says.

The routes also overfly several national and state parks, including Conecuh National Forest and Blackwater River State Forest.

Property values can be expected to decrease as the noise level goes up, the study says.

It recommends that some buildings in high-noise areas be renovated with additional insulation to cut down the noise. Some other homeowners and businesses should relocate to quieter areas, it says.

Community feedback
Air Force officials said they will consider community feedback before they make a final decision on the plan. The report is available for public review and comment through Nov. 17 in area libraries and online.

"The Air Force is committed to being a good neighbor and mitigating the impact of noise levels and will make every effort to balance the mission of the F-35 with environmental and community concerns," said Col. Arnold Bunch, vice commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin.
But Bruce Arnold, mayor of Valparaiso, a community just outside the base's gate, said the Air Force has not done enough to address residents' concerns. The city filed a lawsuit against the Air Force requesting access to more information about the possible effects on the community.
"The only thing the city ever asked was to be able to sit down with the decision-makers of the Air Force to see how the noise areas could be mitigated over the city," Arnold said.

"To this date we have not received any indication from the Air Force that they are willing to talk about this particular issue."

But Arnold said he believes a mutually acceptable agreement is still possible.

"The City of Valparaiso has been proud to be the home of Eglin Air Force Base for a large number of years, and we look forward to having the moniker 'Fightertown U.S.A.' in the future with the F-35," he said. "We feel like if we can get the right people to sit around the table and talk, we can get these issues resolved."
Kenny Wilder
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Kenny Wilder
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 12:40 pm

F35’s Your Noise of Freedom is welcomed here when you arrive in 2010

Bring it on!

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
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Kenny Wilder
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beachbum43
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Sun Nov 09, 2008 7:38 pm

Will this really happen now that the democrats are in full control? Does a 25% cut in defense spending sound familiar? By the time they get done, we'll be lucky to still have Eglin and Hurlburt. God help us!
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AngelGirl
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Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:20 pm

BB43, I'd been thinking the same thing!!!! We've been thru all this before, it seems!! My, how history seems to repeat itself ...

Shame on all the fence-sitting Conservatives who stayed home instead of casting their votes! And shame on the liberals (Black Panthers, A.C.O.R.N., etc.) for trying to intimidate and harrass law-abiding voters!
:evil:

A.G.
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Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
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