Burlington’s fighter jet alarm clock

Every week, without fail, the ears and psyche of the students of UVM and the residents of the surrounding area are assaulted by what sounds like an especially angry blue whale being sucked through a black hole. No, this ruckus isn’t being caused by the booming speakers down at North Beach, but instead by the Vermont Air Guard. Up to three or more times a week, the Vermont Air Guard flies two or three F-16 Fighting Falcons in what seem to be training missions to simulate combat in collegiate settings.After being woken up at 8 o’clock in the morning several times by these planes streaking overhead, I started to wonder if it could get any worse.Not wanting to disappoint, the Vermont Air Guard has put out plans to switch from the already extraordinarily noisy F-16 to the yet noisier F-35 fighter jets.According to the Burlington Free Press, the Vermont Air Guard, based in South Burlington, is one of 11 candidates to receive new F-35 fighters in late 2011. What most concerns many is not only the obnoxious amount of noise pollution, but the waste of fuel and air pollution caused by the missions.At its best, according to Aerospace.org, the F-16 can fly 2,600 miles with 1,500 gallons of fuel. That leaves it with a gas mileage of 1.74 miles per gallon. The F-35 carries more fuel and can go about as far, thus giving it an even worse mileage. As a result, the constant testing of these planes must act as a huge drain of money along with a large source of pollution for the military and the state of Vermont.Clearly, these missions serve the purpose of training pilots, but to many, the cost vastly outweighs the benefit.In the end, the proud tradition of fighter planes in the military is a dying one. The need for manned fighters is dwindling in light of new and safer unmanned technology.Luckily, as far as anyone can tell, the only thing the Vermont Air Guard would need to protect the state from would be rogue frisbees flying out of the UVM campus