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What Is That Sound? — Why Now?
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What Is That Sound?

The NWF Daily News says that the F-35 to debut along Emerald Coast next week

The F-35 visit will also mark the first opportunity to hear, firsthand, how loud the “sound of freedom” will be. The JSF Program Office and Lockheed Martin, producers of the F-35, released a summary of F-35A acoustics testing from data collected October 2008 at Edwards AFB.

According to the summary, the worst case scenario for the F-35 at a distance of 50 feet is 145 decibels at military power, the same as the F-16 and one decibel less than the F-22A. Using its afterburners, the F-35 is the same as the F-18E/F at 148 decibels. F-15s, F-22s and F-16s are higher.

The summary also predicted community acoustics, from 1000 feet, would be worse than an F-18 and equal to an F-22A at military power. The Sound Exposure Level (SEL) would be 121 dbA. At minimum power, the SEL would be 94 dbA, 6 to7 dbA less than the F-18 and F-22.

The shortest distance between any of the three runways and Valparaiso is about 2000 feet. The longest runway, and the runway used by the current fighter wing is much further away and involves no overflights of Valparaiso.

For comparison, the Army says that an idling Humvee is 78 dbA, and Popular Mechanics reports 75 to 89 dbA for  five 115hp outboard engines in a test. At full throttle the outboard range is 106-121 dbA, and Valparaiso is much closure to the water than the runway.

At a Valparaiso commission meeting Monday, Chris Bentley, the city’s lawsuit attorney, dismissed the summary as a press release, not the data the city is seeking. He was also quick to point out the decibel levels of the worst scenario.

Gee, and I though the city was trying to find out how loud these aircraft were. A hint to the attorney, these test are used to determine the level of ear protection needed on the flight line, and have nothing to do with neighboring communities. You now know they will be as noisy as a 115hp outboard running flat out 100 feet off your dock, if you can get within 1000 feet of one without being arrested.


1 Steve Bates { 04.16.09 at 6:18 pm }

Once in Washington state, sitting beside a quiet lake, I saw an outboard motor with a boat attached; it was so loud I wanted to sink it on the spot…

A full symphony orchestra playing ff is about 110 db, though if the brass and percussion crank it up, the total can reach 130 db. Rock bands easily reach 140 db if you’re close by. Yet people voluntarily subject themselves to those things.

I would not willingly live under the regular flight path of such aircraft, but a lot of people who do so are themselves in one way or another associated with the military bases from which they fly. You can get me more worked up about subjecting whales to powerful sonar; unlike humans, the whales have no choice.

2 Steve Bates { 04.16.09 at 6:28 pm }

I meant to add that for years in our local professional Bach orchestra (modern instruments, not historical), the recorders, including me, were seated in front of the brass. For the musicians, being in an orchestra can be almost a painful experience during the fortissimo passages. OK, scratch the “almost.” Here is an article about the phenomenon. Believe me, this was not a problem in Bach’s day; the trumpet sounds were just as focused, but not nearly as ear-splitting. But good clarino trumpet players are rare these days.

Steve Bates´s last blog post..Dear Governor Perry

3 Bryan { 04.16.09 at 7:26 pm }

Personally, I would love to lob a mortar on the driveway of the guy across the street when his friends show up at 2am with their motorized subwoofers. These aircraft are not going to be flying over Val-P all that often, while the boaters are running pretty much 24/7 when the weather gets above 65°.

We have a no wake zone along the beach, but when the big boats go out in the center of the main channel, there is no doubt in your mind what is going on – you can feel it, not just hear it.

Definitely don’t ever bring up the damn gas leaf blowers.