By lex, on April 20th, 2009
I served at NAS Key West in the early 90s, and there really was no better place to fly, and fight. With huge swathes of open ocean, supersonic, instrumented ranges over the Bay of Florida a fighter pilot could handle his machine – and learn his trade – the way his creator had meant him to.
We occasionally got noise complaints. A four-ship of F-14s bugging east from a pack of hungry Vipers could rattle the windows in back in town when the environmental conditions were just right, even if they were the prescribed 30 NM or more offshore.
These days a new source of noise pollution has cropped up, however: The SuperBug.
Some call it the sound of freedom. Others call it sound pollution. There’s no denying the roar of the F-A/18 Super Hornets that train at the Navy’s Boca Chica Airfield are loud — louder than other jets that have flown at the unique base in the lower Keys.
”Bringing in the Super Hornets was like turning a quiet café into a heavy metal bar,” Monroe County Commissioner Kim Wigington said.
It’s become such a problem that the Monroe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution last month requesting Naval Air Station Key West to ”immediately cease and desist” flying the Super Hornets until comprehensive noise studies can be conducted.
”It’s much more than annoying,” said Wigington, who lives on nearby Stock Island in a home that she says has registered noise levels of 120 decibels, well past the 85 decibels that can cause hearing loss.
I’m not unsympathetic to the concerns of the local citizenry, the Super Hornet is a loud machine, especially on take-off in full grunt. And Key West had always been a good neighbor to the Navy, at least while I was there. I’m sure that the Navy will do what it can to minimize its noise signature.