The Briggs & Stratton Symphony

The following is the letter to the editor I submitted yesterday to the Burlington Free Press here in northern Vermont.

Having moved to the Burlington area a year ago – from a very busy and thus noisy neighborhood in northeastern Pennsylvania, I knew it would only be a matter of time and season before the noise pollution followed me north. And, after quite a few fits and starts, it did. The time of day was 0730 (the 24-hour military version of time, or TOD). The day was mid-week of June’s last seven-day stretch. And the noisemaker of choice (loads of decibels) was a chainsaw.

Actually, there were two chainsaws and the men operating them were across the street from my abode. And neither appeared to have ear protectors on (something an Air Force doctor warned me to always wear while mowing a lawn).

Having just turned 60, I dutifully traveled the three-or-so miles over to the Vermont Air National Guard base yesterday to get my new retiree identification card. That mission was completed by 1000. And while over there, I got to see some F-16s sitting on the tarmac. The Fighting Falcon was, and still is, the aircraft of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. I know the 8th, nicknamed the Wolf Pack, very well. I was its public affairs officer from June 1985 to June 1986.

Yes, a taking-off F-16 can and does have a noise envelope. In my 26 year Air Force career I never met an aircraft that didn’t – jet or propeller-driven.

Yes, Burlington-area Vermonters have a right to be concerned about a future aircraft’s noise. But, we all ought to be just as concerned, if not more, about the noise pollution we put up with all the time, regardless of what the Air Guard fighter wing may be up to flying wise. Those chainsaws whose noise pollution wiped out the morning bird song are a sterling example of what’s out there. And this noise pollution is so constant thatmany of us simply take it for granted. Wrong choice.

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