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F-35 Opponents Stage Audio Protest

AP/Toby Talbot

Opponents of basing the F-35 fighter jet at the Burlington airport cranked up the volume Tuesday in Montpelier and Burlington to give the public an audio preview of what they say the planes would sound like.

Chris Hurd is a member of the Stop the F-35 coalition. He apologized in advance to shattering the calm of a Montpelier street at lunch time.

“We never wanted to have to do a demonstration like this. We’re completely against it,” he said. “But as a grass roots organization with absolutely no support from the leaders in the state of Vermont, we feel that this is a course of action that we have to pursue.”

Hurd had earlier blasted a recording of the jet near Burlington’s City Hall. An hour later, he parked his truck with a trailer holding a bank of speakers below Governor Peter Shumlin’s fifth floor office.

Hurd said the sound would reach 115 decibels, what the jet would sound like on take off at about 1,000 feet away.

“The supporters of the plane have maintained that six minutes a day is all that this is going to be, and it’s really minimizing what the situation is,” he said. “The impact on hearing is not a single event; it is a cumulative event, the World Health Organization has stated, and that the politicians seem to want to ignore. Today, for this demonstration we’re only going to do six minutes, six minutes a day, that’s all.”

The generator kicked over to power the speakers. As the take-off roar built to a crescendo, spectators nearby covered their ears and winced from the noise. Even with earplugs covered by a pair of headphones, the sound felt like a visceral punch that vibrated the stomach.

Air National Guard Spokesman Captain Chris Gookin said the recording was not realistic. In a statement, Gookin said, “demonstrating a decibel level in this manner is not a comparison the community would experience with normal flight operations.”

Hurd and other opponents said the sound was more effective than words to show the jet’s impact on neighborhoods near the airport.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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