Arlo Mudgett: The View From Faraway Farm: One more annoyance

The older I get the more I cherish my time outdoors. We get plenty of warm home comfort during the winter, making those days outside during the brief spring through fall that much more precious. Almost any evening I can step outside and hear owls hunting the ridges on either side of our beautiful hollow. With no light pollution out here I can see the Milky Way in all its splendor. We don't hear any highways, and quite often we hear train whistles 8 and 9 miles away. This is not to say we live in the wilderness. However, it seems as if the Massachusetts Air National Guard thinks that we do.

From the air, western Massachusetts doesn't look a whole lot different than southern Vermont. Lots of trees, lots of mountains, not all that many towns and inhabitants. However, it's a big sky and those F-15s need to train over southern Vermont as well as over western Massachusetts. I have to say that the novelty has worn off and those maneuvers are getting downright annoying. When they are doing the maneuvers they make a lot of noise and it is unnerving when you are outside. During the weekday hearing them flying over my office is equally annoying.

We actually have plenty of air traffic over southern Vermont. Lots of flights every day from Manchester, N.H., and Boston headed for the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest fly directly over southern Vermont. Flights from Bangor, Maine to those same destinations have attained some pretty good altitude by the time they are flying over us, so they aren't as loud and annoying. Flights on their way to Iceland, Russia, and Northern Europe fly over our area from New York and just like the Boston and Manchester flights, they are still gaining altitude and are much louder than a flight cruising at 34,000 feet. So what I'm getting at is that we do not have quiet skies to begin with, and those Massachusetts Air National Guard training periods that can last an entire month are simply over the top.

My question is this: Why can't they do those maneuvers out over the Atlantic where they would only disturb the occasional fishing boat? Is their fuel supply so limited that they can't fly over the Gulf of Maine, conduct maneuvers, then fly back to Westfield on one fuel-up? If that is actually the case, then there's mid-air refueling. What about all those Air National Guard tankers that fly out of Portsmouth, N.H.? Can't they also refuel these guys from Westfield while they are out over the Atlantic?

Before anyone thinks that I am anti-military I would like to disabuse them of that notion. If the Massachusetts Air National Guard can't accomplish the mission with which they are charged without conducting maneuvers over southern Vermont, fine. I will gladly cease and desist my rant about the annoyance it causes. They don't do this stuff every day so I suppose we should just accept it and move on. However, it really got annoying when they were doing their fly-overs last spring, and now that they are doing it again in the fall it just seems a little excessive.

I spent most of last Sunday outside moving things, loading and unloading trailers and getting ready for winter. What would have been a perfect autumn day was less than that because of the sometimes jarring sound of fighter jets making more noise than commercial flights with more engines. At one point my significant other and I were outside talking with our neighbors and we saw two fighters flying over several miles to our west. They were loud. Uncomfortably loud, and I'm slowly going deaf and have to say "huh" a lot and they were still too loud.

Here's another admission. I like aircraft. I still look up when they are flying over. Military aircraft are rarer to see and I have always liked seeing them. I suppose it's something about knowing that our military is there for us and that they have our backs. I'm like a kid when it comes to seeing aircraft, always have been and probably always will be. But when I start getting cranky about fighter jet fly-overs being excessively loud it makes me wonder what other folks are thinking. Is it too much, or did the latest round of maneuvers simply catch me on a day when I thought it was just one more annoyance?

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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