It's hard to see what politicians backing the basing of F-35 fighter jets in South Burlington gained from their trip this week to Eglin Air Force Base, other than a lot more flack from skeptical opponents. Gov. Peter Shumlin's remark to VPR's Kirk Carapezza that the jets' critics have "fertile imaginations" seemed particularly insensitive to those whose livelihoods are wrapped up in houses on the planes' flight path.
And why exactly won't Sen. Patrick Leahy personally meet with F-35 opponents, as they demanded this week ?
Florida Fly-by More Show Biz than Science
The Governor fared no better in the Green Mountain Daily online, where J. V. Walt wrote:
my goodness, Governor Shumlin's little Florida junket was a complete waste of time and the GBIC's money, wasn't it? The best he can hope for is that this event will be quickly forgotten. It certainly won't change anyone's mind, and it displayed one of Shummy's less endearing political quirks -- his inability to appear plausibly concerned with the opinions of people who disagree with him.
None of those opposed to basing the F-35 in Vermont were even invited on the trip, even though those opponents include lawyers, engineers, legislators, and a retired Air Force colonel who was a Pentagon planner for years. That's Rosanne Greco, chair of the South Burlington city council that has twice voted (by 4-1 and 4-0) to oppose basing an advanced war machine in a residential neighborhood in Vermont's most densely populated area.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger went on the Florida trip and commented that "there is a good deal of conflicting information out there," without giving any indication of what he'd been doing to resolve those conflicts, or sort out opinion from information. Weinberger has been reflexively but not knowledgeably supporting of the warplane. The Burlington City Council appears divided and has so far taken a position of needing more information.
Winooski Mayor Playing Hamlet-of-the-F-35
That's the same position taken by the Winooski City Council, whose mayor Michael O'Brien was the only official who travelled to Florida without having previously taken a position of public support for the F-35. Winooski is in the airport flight path and O'Brien says he still hasn't made up his mind, although Green Mountain Daily reported his geeky side in play at Eglin AFB:
Winooski Mayor and amateur audiologist Mike O'Brien, the only F-35 agnostic on the trip, performed a scienterrific evaluation of the noise with his iPad. Which unfortunately showed the F-35 blasting 114 decibels to the F-16's 101. (Decibels are logarithmic units, so a difference of 13 dB is quite substantial.) And then he proceeded to make excuses: the F-35 may have seemed louder because it flew closer to him.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it's unhealthy to be exposed to sound at 106 dB for as little as four minutes. The CDC also notes that "for every 3db the energy doubles." That suggests that O'Brien's measurement of a 13 dB difference, if correct, represents a fourfold doubling of the sound.
According to the Air Force environmental impact study it takes sound of only 65 dB to create an area "unsuitable for residential use."
1 | 2