Muffling the Sound of Freedom

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Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes

An F-35 Lightning II takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, California.

A pair of high school kids has turned concern over the noise generated by F-35s flying out of Florida’s Elgin Air Force Base into a science-fair project.

Or, as the Northwest Florida Daily News puts it:

Since September, senior Jessica Sandlin and junior Stefan Makarov have conducted a variety of sound tests for a school science project to discover what homeowners in Valparaiso might do to lessen the auditory impact of F-35 jets landing and taking off from neighboring Eglin Air Force Base. Their experiment was so well received that they are now headed to the state science fair.

The students played a sound clip of an F-35 flying by over loudspeakers set up outside to see how much noise leaked inside various houses. Not unsurprisingly, brick homes with multiple layers between masonry and living areas kept out the most sound.

“It was kind of my fault we decided to do this,” Sandlin, whose father is a retired Air Force pilot, told the newspaper. “I knew a lot of people were worried there were going to be problems with the F-35s.”

Readers’ views of the young scientists’ work were mixed.

“You took a problem and are looking for a solution,” one exulted.

“I grew up around Eglin, dating back to the days when they last had F-4s,” a second posted. “The F-15s were a little quieter, but not by much, especially in burner. But after living somewhere else where B-1s `The Bone’ flew out of, it redefined the meaning of noise. Sometimes they’d set car alarms off if flying certain takeoff patterns. Point being, the ’35 can’t be any worse than what I’ve experienced…or anyone else who’s spent time around the noise of freedom.”

This is no small thing. The word “noise” appears 3,043 times in the 1,048-page F-35’s training environmental impact statement released last summer.

It also warranted a 70-page appendix filled with more noise nuggets than a normal person would ever want to…hear.