Here are 2 excellent responses to General Cray's factually challenged attempt to dismiss concerns over noise, property values, and quality of life.
The General says they “fully expect the updated analysis and modified local flying operations to decrease the 65 dB DNL contour” area. In February 2006, the Guard predicted that a change of engines would make the F-16 quieter (see FAA Part 150 report page 22). The Guard was wrong.
Not only did the F-16s not become quieter, they became significantly louder. Their expectations were wrong six years ago. Now, they “expect” the noise to decrease in the future for the F-35A. Neither the Guard, nor the AF, can predict with accuracy that this will occur. And if they are wrong again, 6,675 people will be affected by this increased noise.
The General cites two studies in the DEIS regarding home values. One indicated a negative impact on housing values; the other did not. Upon which study should the local area rely? As a strategic planner, surely the General knows one must plan for the most severe eventuality. The AF would not have included the study that showed a negative impact on housing values, if they did not want us to consider this possibility.
The General says there is no factual data to support that military flight operations at the airport have negatively affected local property values. 200 homes in South Burlington have been, or are in the process of being, torn down largely because of the F-16 (see FAA report, pages 29 and 32). Those homes have no value now because they no longer exist. And, how does one put a monetary value on the quality of life of those still living in the airport neighborhoods? Moreover, we have not yet seen what the new noise information based on the current operations of the F-16s will have on future property values. In the past, homeowners in the affected area were not putting the disclaimer –that their home has been designated by the federal government as not being suitable for residential use -- on their sales documents. Realtors in the area are only now analyzing the effect this statement will have on future sales.
The General mentions concerns about home loans, and says there is no supporting data to suggest that certain government loans will not be approved within the noise contours of the airport. On the contrary, there IS supporting data that says specifically this will be the case. It is mentioned a few times in the FAA Part 150 and DEIS reports (FAA Part 150 page 5; DEIS pages C-46-47). The General says they have received information from HUD implying that this is not the case. So, what is the truth? The DEIS is the official AF findings on environmental impact on our area. It appears the Guard and others are questioning the veracity of that document. Is the DEIS wrong? And, if the DEIS is wrong on this matter, is it wrong in other areas? What are we to believe?
The General mentions accusations and misinformation; and then seems to imply that the Guard is now able to respond to questions in order to clear up and resolve this misinformation. Here are some of the existing questions contributing to misinformation.
1. Will the VTANG close if they are not selected in this initial basing decision?
2. Will the VTANG’s mission be different if they are not selected in this initial basing decision?
3. Will the VTANG require a lot fewer personnel if they are not selected in this initial basing decision?
4. Is it possible that the VTANG might be selected in subsequent F-35A basing rounds?
5. If is possible that the F-16 could fly beyond 2025, when it is expected to be withdrawn from service?
6. Is it possible that the Guard could get another mission?
Simple and direct answers to the following questions will go a long way to correcting misinformation, and helping the public understand the ramifications of this issue.
The Air Force draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) says that the maximum sound level of the F-35 during takeoff and flying over at 1000 feet above ground level is 115 decibels. For the f-16 the draft EIS says the sound level under the same conditions is 94 decibels. The Air Force draft EIS also says that every 10 decibels is heard as a doubling of the loudness. The 21 decibel difference between F-35 and F-16 on takeoff is more than two doublings or more than four times louder. All this according to the Air Force draft EIS.
Brigadier General Cray omits mention of these facts about relative loudness of the two planes provided by the Air Force in his article. Instead he says, "the F-35 will be somewhat louder during take-off." I would respectfully urge you to consider that four times louder than the F-16 is not just "somewhat louder," General. It is a lot louder. And the fact that the sound level averaged over 24 hours for a squadron of jets that flies over in just 6 minutes puts the house in a zone that the Air Force draft EIS says is unsuitable for residential use says all we need to know about just how loud that sound must be. It must be super incredibly loud. 115 decibels is close to the level that the Air Force draft EIS says causes permanent hearing damage.
The General suggested one thing in his article that could well be true: the Guard was much better at the facts when it kept silent.