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F-35s in Madison -- Another View




I spent the first 14 years of my life living, learning, and growing up in the now F-35 zone in Madison, Wisconsin. I spent 30 years, eight months, and ten days working at an airport. I know a thing or three about airport noise.

In the 1960s, the Wisconsin Air National Guard flew F-89s and F-102s. Noisy Jets. Ozark, TWA, Northwest Orient, and North Central airlines served Madison's airport. There were no restrictions on airspeed over populated areas, and I remember hearing sonic booms on a somewhat regular basis. (Although, I concede the sonic booms might have been caused by visiting airplanes.) Our home was a beehive of activity with sleepovers and play dates with my friends, my parents' friends and coworkers socializing, or visiting relatives. The main function of these activities was conversation. The main function of grade school was (and still is today) learning--through teaching, lectures, reading aloud. Airplanes made noise. Disruptive noise. When an airplane flew over our home or school, we stopped talking for the 15 seconds it took to be heard again. This is a similar disruptions as caused by emergency vehicle sirens.

Our home was also blocks from Oscar Mayer. In today's society, the stench wafting from the livestock slaughter at the plant would be outrageous and cause for litigation. Conversations with visitors in our home were often peppered with exclamations of, "What's that smell?!" We usually answered with, "What smell?"

These two seemingly dissimilar snapshots of my childhood point out humans are made to adapt to their environments. We grew accustomed to the smell from Oscar's. And to the noise from airplanes.

The airport in Madison opened in 1939. The 115th Fighter Wing was established in 1948. Most, if not all, of the homes in the now-F-35 zone were not yet built then. Airports have airplanes. Airplanes make noise. Avigation easement or not, any reasonable person should expect to hear airplane noise near an airport.

The economic impact of having the Wisconsin Air National Guard based locally is indisputable. It is a matter of public record that the 115th Fighter Wing generates nearly $100 million to the local economy, providing more than 1,500 direct and indirect jobs. It's not a choice of either the status quo or the F-35s coming to Madison. The Wisconsin Air National Guard cannot continue to operate with the aging F-16s. The F-16s will certainly be phased out, and the Truax Guard 115th Fighter Wing may take their F-35s and go somewhere else.

That noise you hear from the Wisconsin Air National Guard is the sound of dollar bills falling on Madison. Not only that, it's the sound of freedom. The F-35 is one of the most advanced fighter jets flying today, and Madison should be proud to claim them. The men and women who fly and support these jets should be proud to call Madison home.

I now live in a county with some of the poorest residents in Illinois. We'd welcome the economic boost from an F-35 fighter wing based at Scott Air Force Base of St. Louis Lambert International Airport. While neither of these airports is in competition with Truax for this Wing, if you don't want the F-35s, please sen 'em our way.

Life is noisy. Get over it.

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