Local leaders are smiling because Beaufort was chosen 2013's happiest seaside town by Coastal Living magazine, a marketing bonanza that could attract more tourists, retirees and businesses. How happy will they be if the same tourists, retirees and businesses choose to go elsewhere because of the noise generated by the F-35B training squadrons?
No one has quantified the impact of the noise on Beaufort. According to the environmental impact study take-offs and landings will increase by more than 70 percent. Planes will fly from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Friday, making Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort one of the busiest airports in the Southeast.
One critical variable has been missing from the beginning. The military will not publicize the level of noise generated by the F-35B. The impact study was approved without definitive noise data. The noise level could have a devastating impact on many of the factors that made us the happiest seaside community.
Even if the F-35 B is only slightly louder than the F-18, there will be substantially more noise because of increased air traffic. Would you move to a community where planes are constantly flying?
Other communities where the F-35s will be stationed are concerned about the noise and are taking steps to mitigate its impact. Our leaders have closed their ears to the problem. Local leaders need to ensure that the noise generated by the F-35B does not destroy the attributes that attract people and businesses to Beaufort.