New F-22 proposal could mean more noise for Mt. View

F-22 Raptors taking off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as part of training exercises in 2015. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media)

The Air Force is weighing a plan that could bring more noise to at least one Anchorage neighborhood.

Listen now

At a meeting Wednesday evening, Air Force representatives will talk with community members at Clark Middle School in the Mountain View neighborhood, one of the most ethnically diverse and poorest parts of Anchorage.

The forum is meant to hear concerns and reactions to a draft Environmental Impact Statement on a proposed change to how F-22 fighter jets take off and land at nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Every year, the Air Force tries to conduct 5,710 training flights with the jets out of JBER. In order to improve efficiency and safety, it needs more flexibility with which runways are used. The plan the Air Force is recommending would increase activity on a north-south runway, which “would increase off-base noise and have disproportionate effects on minority and low income populations in the community of Mountain View.”

Jason Bookman is president of Mountain View’s Community Council, and his house is right under the flight path when jets turn overhead to make a northward approach. A certain amount of noise from JBER is just part of living in the neighborhood, according to Bookman. But the new flight pattern goes well beyond that.

“When the planes are doing the north-south landings it’s much more like you’re attending an air show,” Bookman said by phone a few hours before Wednesday’s community meeting, which he planned to attend. “It can be much more intense.”

This summer, as construction work has been done on the east-west runway used for most F-22 take-offs, residents have gotten a taste of what more north-south usage means for noise. Bookman is sympathetic to safety concerns cited by the Air Force and its aim to keep air-traffic with civilian planes in the area less cluttered. But he said many residents in Mountain View feel like the neighborhood’s concerns get ignored, and as a result, officials with the city and military don’t treat it with the same consideration as more well-to-do parts of Anchorage.

“The impacts that we face by our location, by the fact that we are a mixed neighborhood — it just doesn’t get a priority or (the) seriousness that some of the other communities would generate in terms of concern,” Bookman said.

A spokesperson for the Air Force’s 673rd Wing said no one with detailed knowledge of the proposal would be available for an interview in time for this story’s deadline.

The draft EIS includes multiple other options for the Air Force to handle F-22 traffic at JBER. Officials will be taking comments on those proposals, as well.

The meeting at Clark Middle School starts at 6:30 p.m., and lasts until 9 p.m.