The U.S. Air Force is considering basing its newest fighter jet - the F35 - at the Burlington International Airport. But opponents are concerned about the noise level of the planes. Vermont’s Governor and other officials traveled to Florida on Wednesday to listen to the planes.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and the mayors of Winooski and Burlington traveled to Florida to hear firsthand how loud the F-35 fighter jet is compared to an F-16, which is already based in Burlington. The Vermont Air Guard is on the short list for hosting the plane at the Burlington International Airport.
Governor Shumlin was unavailable on Thursday. The Burlington Free Press reports that he said he was "shocked at how quiet the F-35 is".
The Stop the F35 Coalition is opposed to basing the plane in Burlington, saying its noise would have a negative impact on surrounding communities - affecting things like health and property values. Member Juliet Buck says the trip was a political junket with biased observers.
The trip was sponsored by the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp. That group works with the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce on a number of issues, including getting the F35 to the Burlington Air Guard base. Tom Torti, President of the Chamber, feels it is important that officials saw and heard the plane.
The Stop the F35 Coalition was not invited on the trek to Florida, so they held a protest at Vermont Senator Leahy’s Burlington office.
Tom Torti, meanwhile, says the opponents are entrenched in their opposition and are not assessing the economic importance of the jets.
The U.S. Air Force is expected to make a final decision on where they will base the F35s next year.