By: Aidan Quigley for VTDigger, Oct. 1, 2019
WINOOSKI — The F-35 jets housed at the Vermont National Guard took off and landed Tuesday, in a first training run.
One jet took off around 9 a.m. and landed around 10:15 a.m. during an overcast day in the Burlington area, and a second flight took off around 1:45 p.m. and landed just before 3 p.m. Lt. Chelsea Clark, public affairs officer for the Vermont Air National Guard, said that the jets went on a training mission.
The F-35s arrived in Vermont Sept. 19 after a lengthy basing decision process and years of debate. The jets’ arrival was celebrated by the Vermont Air National Guard, the first Guard unit in the country to host the F-35s, and supporters.
Critics are primarily concerned about the increased noise the jets will bring to the region compared to their predecessor, the F-16. Many more households, primarily in Williston and Winooski, will have average noise levels higher than 65 decibels, according to a noise map released by the airport in May.
In Winooski, some residents said they are against the basing, while others said they are waiting to hear the new jets more times before determining where they stand.
Bradford Horton, who lives and works in Winooski, said he has been living in the city for a couple years and said while he had gotten used to the plane noise, the F-35s were noticeably louder.
“Since the new ones have come around, I’ve definitely heard a difference — they’ve been louder,” Horton said. “I work right here, and generally the feeling is not really anyone is happy about it. The people who support it don’t live in the flight path.”
Jack Houk lives on West Canal Street and has lived in Winooski for three years. He said he was concerned that the jets will hurt property values, potentially harm children in the area and could become capable of carrying nuclear weapons.