The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

Is It Me (or the ANG)?

You know, I’m starting to think I’ve been living out here in the woods for too long. Or maybe I’ve just become a curmudgeon over time. Either way, I’m beginning to understand natures frustration with the intrusion of humans. Now, I live close to a highway that’s used by freight haulers. And I’ve come to adapt to the noise that some tractor-trailers make as they climb or descend the slope near me. But it’s not a constant occurrence, just a minor inconvenience.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about my latest intrusion – the Vermont Air National Guard. Now don’t get me wrong, I support the troops and have the utmost respect for our folks in uniform – well, most of them. When I moved to The Great White North of the White Mountains, I did so for a couple of reasons – the people and towns reminded me of how life was back in my childhood days, before it got “crowded” and you had to lock up everything. Another reason was the pristine beauty the area has to offer – rivers, mountains, and nature. You can’t put a price tag on solitude. Live Free Or Die is more than just a motto up here – it’s a way of life.

And I was enjoying that life – up until last year. That’s when I started to notice that there seemed to be an awful lot of jets flying overhead, or nearby. Now, for those not familiar with mountain life, when we get thunderstorms, the thunder doesn’t just “boom” – it rolls through the forests with a reverberation, like an echo, as it slowly fades away. Well, the same holds true for jets – when they fly low, the “rumble” echos through the forests as well.

At first I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. The airports around here are pretty small and I doubted that they had the capacity for any type of jets. And as I said, occasionally is one thing, but it had reached a point to where these were flying so low as to rattle my windows. I swear, it sounded like they were “going down” and I was just waiting for the explosion in the distance. So, after some online researching, I came across the Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) as the place to lodge noise complaints.

But when I spoke to the official at the FSDO, he informed me that no flights were scheduled over my area – well, no “commercial” flights. What he did tell me is that “The Military” had a couple of F15’s flying over my area. And he also told me that they had “deck” of 2500 feet. Now, for anyone familiar with the movie “Top Gun” – the jets they were flying were F14’s, and the deck they used, over the desert, was 10,000 feet. Can you imagine what an F15 must sound like at 2500 feet? Well, I didn’t have to, because at least a couple of times a week they came by to show me.

So I complained to the FDSO, who told me that they’d log the report, but there was nothing they could do, since it’s the Military. And so I did some more research and found out that it’s the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont National Guard that’s been infringing on my and my nature buddies solitude. So I contacted them about the noise – a number of times – but of course, being the Military, they answer to no one – especially not me (or the birds).

And as 2015 came to an end and 2016 began the flights occurred daily, for at least 1-2 hours at a time, at least 2-3 times a day (except Sundays). I’d watch the birds scatter from the feeder and, even with the windows closed, I’d need to turn up the TV. So, beginning in March, I decided that every time they impacted my peace, I’d fire off a complaint to the ANG, even if they didn’t answer me back. Until one day, low and behold, I received a response to my complaint (filed on a Tuesday), informing me that they weren’t flying over my area that week and that I must be mistaken (I don’t want to call the Captain a liar, but I know what I heard). Anyway from that time until the following Saturday, things were quiet.

But it won’t end – at least not until someone “on high” takes issue with it. My only recourse is to complain to my State Government (Why is the “Vermont” ANG flying over “New Hampshire” airspace), the Federal Government (Why are you funding the training of F15’s and soon to be F35’s – over populated areas) and The EPA. Now, I’ve read stories of how the EPA has shut down farms and other “private property” (the Northern Spotted Owl comes to mind), but I wonder if they’d stop the Military until an impact study could be performed? My guess is no.

People say you can’t fight City Hall or Big Government. But if this is the case, then what does freedom truly mean? In the land of the people, by the people and for the people, shouldn’t the people be able to change what’s wrong and make it right? I was asking my Postman about this, since he’s a Weekend Warrior that’s stationed there. He said “Just think of it as the sound of freedom”. My reply was a simple one – “If I want to experience Baghdad or Afghanistan, I’ll go there. I experienced the sound of freedom, but now it’s gone.”