Accepting a higher good in overflights

We suspect the debate over the U.S. Air Force flying training missions in Maine is dominated by a vocal minority that is unwilling to occasionally part with a few seconds of silence.

The U.S. Air Force filed a draft environmental impact statement two weeks ago to base its new F-35A Lightning II jet fighters at the Burlington Air Guard Station in Vermont.

If the Burlington base is selected instead of bases in Florida and South Carolina, training flights would be flown over Western Maine in an area that stretches from Coos County, N.H., across Western Maine and into Somerset County.

The Air Force says 95 percent of the flights would occur above 5,000 feet. A previous plan submitted for two other types of jet fighters would allow jets to sometimes drop to 500 feet. Meanwhile, the Air Force has been opposed at every step by local residents.

The necessity for such training is obvious. The lightly populated, mountainous terrain resembles areas in which these jet fighter pilots might find themselves delivering bombs and dodging heat-seeking missiles.

The pilots must practice for many hours to prepare for the exacting and dangerous missions they will one day accept — on our behalf.

Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to air shows around the country to see the best-trained pilots in the world display their skills.

The Air Force's Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels are the best of the best and thrill Americans of all ages.

We wouldn't be surprised if many people in Western Maine felt both honored and inspired to have the mighty jets occasionally roar overhead.

As for scaring wildlife, we hope someone will explain to us why birds and other animals are such a problem at commercial airports if they are so frightened by jet engines. A long winter of snowmobile racket is at least as frightening and not nearly as important to our national defense.

There are dozens of military air bases spread across the U.S., many near large communities, where overflights are a daily and sometimes hourly occurrence.

One of those places is sunny Pensacola, Fla., where regular overflights seem to be well-tolerated by thousands of annual beach-goers and tourists. The same goes for Virginia Beach, another thriving tourist destination.

Finally, as we have pointed out many times in this column, 99 percent of Americans have been relatively unaffected by our extended wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We didn't have to collect scrap metal, use ration coupons or plant Victory Gardens to help these war efforts. Our children have not faced an involuntary draft and relatively few of us have served.

Little has been asked of us, while the burden of war has been borne by a brave few.

Some have lived burrowed into mountainsides under daily attack or in forward operating bases with the endless drone of generators. Mothers and fathers, wives and children have lived in constant fear of a knock on the door.

And some of us can't stand to have our silence occasionally broken to remind us of the cost of liberty?

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Accepting a higher good in overflights

Rex 4:20 Monday HST • 
. .Perhaps they could go train over the ocean . . ?
alt; Lake Champlain • h t h ? /s, Steve

Richard Begin's picture

Accepting A Higer Ground with Flyovers

Actually the songs mentioned were by the "Temptations" Ball of Confusion" 1970 and "Cloud Nine" 1968 and "Over Under Side ways Down by " the Yardbirds who featured Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Kieth Relf at different times. That was a Hit in 1966

Now as far as Toni's remark my goodness Toni My Dear and I believe Toni ending in a I is a Female.

I take Displeasure in your Broad Stroke Posting that Suggessts that some of us who have opposing Views that you and Mr Lyons share are not behaving serious enough for You.

How you know such things is absolutely Astounding. Perhaps you should understand that some folks do have a difference of Opinion, Now this issue is one of those that can excite some folks like you and Seabury and you are entitled to your own Point of View.

But when it comes to National Defense and Regional Security I think those Two points can Trump you two on this issue,

So for Me it comes down to am I prepared to place My Family and Friends and those who I do not know in Serious Jeopardy by Suspending those Flights I don't think so

Again Toni remember that although the Soviet Union was disbanded there are still an Estimated T wenty Six Thousand Nuclear Warheads and their system of Security is not so Safe or Reliable.

That means Toni there is a chance of a Rogue Launching of a Missile that could Penetrate our Atmosphere. Toni and Seabury are you Two willing to chance that by stopping those Flights ?

Now I realize that what I am suggesting is sort of an Extreme possibility. But the Attack on the USS Cole was an extreme Possibility but it happened. Next the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th were also Extreme but they happened

Toni Do we or do you want to help that happen again?

Toni Seger's picture

worthy subject, unworthy response

Thank you for your serious attempt to discuss this issue.
Unfortunately, there was little interest in having a serious discussion which, in itself, is revealing. Apparently, the only people who took this editorial seriously are people who don't take anything seriously.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You paint us with a pretty

You paint us with a pretty broad brush, sir.

Jason Theriault's picture


Just the other night I woke to the sound of a large deep buzzing overhead. It was the life flight helicopter returning to CMMC. I wasn't annoyed by the noise, I said a quiet little prayer for the people being helped by it. You know, they did a study about the health affects of wind turbines and found that most of the stuff reported could be attributed to the people being annoyed by the windmills, not the windmills themselves.

So stop being annoyed.

I used to vacation in the path of Otis AFB on Cape Cod as they would fly sorties on "Nomans Land" off of the coast of Martha's Vinyard. Your talking about 30 seconds of noise. Get over it.

Richard Begin's picture

Over under side ways down Flights

Well said Jason. Get over the slight interruption of the Noise. It's a Ball of Confusion that Mr Seabury Lyons has tried to Exploit.

I think he has been spending to much time on 'Cloud Nine' As you so Aptly stated it's a mall Window of Noise and things return to Normal.

I think Seabury has been musing too much..
He is one great Guy and he makes good sense at times. But I have to register my objection.

Also Pirate have you always been a Pirate in the True Sense or Spirit of the Word? Or are there other Secrets that you would feel comfortable sharing with us your Loyal Readers.

Oh also In my post this afternoon I Allude to at least two Songs from the 60's can any one out there tell me who the Performers are?


PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Couldn't find those songs,

Couldn't find those songs, Richard. Titles, please.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture



PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You vacationed on Cape Cod?

You vacationed on Cape Cod? The parrot sez he know you were part of the 1% all along.

Jason Theriault's picture

Not part of the %1, but...

Not part of the %1, but I play one on TV. Besides, you know that's where the super secret Communist Party of America Fortress of Power is. All Libs have to make pilgrimages there.

Unless that's where you're Grandmother lives. Then you go and visit in the summer. =)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We knew it; that must be why

We knew it; that must be why you wear that disguise. You're probably some famous TV personality posing as a French guy from Auburn for the sake of protecting your privacy. Pirates know all about protecting one's privacy. The parrot sez it's protecting one's 'privates', but he's just a dumb bird, anyway.

Jason Theriault's picture

Funny thing

You'r gonna love this.
My mother is a Kennedy from Massachusetts.

...But not those Kennedys

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That explains your ability to

That explains your ability to articulate with such erudition.
My grandmother was a Murray from Matane, P.Q.

Richard Begin's picture

Fly overs

As Usual Seabury tends to get into High Gear with his over useage of wordy empty statements.

I happened to Like Lee Atwater, and having spent time with Karl Rove on Earth day during G W Bush's visit to Maine. I have never had the opportunity to meet Grover Norquist. Although I like his pledege

Come Now Mr Lyons lets acknowledge the fact that you simply need and wait with Anxiety to Fuss over any issue that allows you to demonstrate your un Patriotic Behavior. I'm not at all surprised that you reacted to my Post with such a negative attitude.

Seabury what is important to me which also seems to reasonate with the Good Folks at the Sun Journlal is we collectively can see the Inherent Value and Expressed need to allow such Flights to take place.

Maybe My Lyon you could spell out to me and others on this Forum Just exactly it is that these flights have you so threatned?

Again I thank the Sun Journal for an opportunity to discuss such a Vital issue for National Security.

Seabury Lyon's picture

Military Overflights

For those interested in the very extensive facts and history surrounding the "CONDOR" "Condor I & II MOA" and "Military Overflights" issue, please refer to any and all related refs found at :

* Web Site of Sen Susan Collins on this issue

* Web site of Sen Olympia Snow " " "

* Web site of Gov. Paul LePage " " "

* Web site 'Maine dot gov.'; search archives for anything related to: "Condor"; Gov. Baldacci Condor; Gov. Kiernan Condor;

* Web site for Western Maine Matters: many refs from various newspapers, Air National Guard, elected officaials and concerned citizens.

Thank you for your interest!

Bert Lambert's picture

Necessity for such training???

You wrote, "The necessity for such training is obvious. The lightly populated, mountainous terrain resembles areas in which these jet fighter pilots might find themselves delivering bombs and dodging heat-seeking missiles."

The veracity of your entire editorial is exposed by this ignorant iteration of falsehoods. Modern air warfare is conducted by smart bombs. The pilot only needs known coordinates of the target and can be miles away from the target (out of harms way) and going in the opposite direction at safe high altitudes, fire the bomb and hit the target within three feet. He might not even see the explosion.

This was done in Libya over and over again through hellish anti-aircraft fire with no lost of aircraft or pilots. The dropping bombs a la WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam style where John McCain was shot down is a thing of the past. This old pre-smart bomb tactic required low flight visual sighting which was both dangerous to plan and pilot and highly inaccurate, missing the target most of the time.

 's picture

Having experience in military

Having experience in military aviation I can assure you that the most efficient attack remains, popping over the horizon at a high rate of speed, delivering ordinance, and vanishing back over the horizon. This method has proved so effective that even the lumbering P3 Orion was adept at it.

Seabury Lyon's picture

Military Overflights - Flighty commentary

Apparently Mr Begin is more adept at wise-cracks and sarcasm than dealing with facts. Seems to be an awful rash of that going around. In fact, that's precisely why I quit the Republican Party after many years of what I also considered to be the "Party Of Patriots". What a pathetic, embarrassing, waste of my time and patriotic effort. What a great awakening when I got out from under the cloud of faux facts, brain-washing and downright lying on the part of those who call themselves "conservative" these days.

It was a breath of fresh air indeed to escape the flypaper laid down by the Atwater, Norquist and Rove triumvirate and their acolytes who are little more than shrill shills for a corrupt corporatist agenda. What unmitigated hypocrisy to call for "less government intrusion" out of one side of their mouths, then bribe, lobby, and coerce legislators to demand such invasions as mandatory vaginal probes before an abortion; or to attempt to re-write American history claiming that our nation was founded on Christianity; or to claim corporations are people, etc, etc, etc.

So, contrary to the Mr Begins wish, this patriot chooses to fight his battles to Conserve our American democracy for us living breathing citizens right here where I grew up, in true-blue conservative New England.

Rufus Ham's picture

Accepting a higher good in overflights

Excellent Editorial. Would love to see this in every Newspaper in the USA.

Richard Begin's picture

Over flight

Well said Sun Journal. The problem with issues like this is it opens the 'Flood Gates' for the Likes of the 'Seabury Lyons' of the Bethel Maine Region.

I notice Mr Lyons comments in the Bethel Citizen along with one other Fellow Traveler 'Don Chase'

Both are about as 'Red' as one could imagine. They are nice Guys but have no clue what the real World that we reside in is all about.

Don't forget just because the Soviet Empire Dissolved that does not mean a Nucler Attack is not possible from the Air.

I am delighted that those jets Fly over and encourage more of the same exposure

Poor Old Seabury has forgotten what it Means to Be a Pro Active American.

It as usual is the Case with My Lyons comments.

He tends to be to wound up in the Silence of his own agenda.
Now it seems as though Mr Lyond response had taken out of 'Moth Balls' one more Peace Nick who seems to be driven by a Desire to lower The Nations Defense expectations in the Name of that dreaded Pariah of a word Diversity.

Hey Seabury and Tony why don't you move to Canada with Alec Baldwin?

I'm sure we could raise the Bus Fair for the Both of you.

Hope all are enjoying this great Weather

Seabury Lyon's picture

Military Overflights; Incredible, non-credible

Opposition is well founded, based on Air Force failure to: 1. meet minimum standards in documenting required facts, 2. eliminate errors and contradictions in documentation, 3. provide answers to questions expressed by citizens and our congressional delegation. It is all a matter of record -IF one cares enough to look.

To equate jet noise levels to snowmobiles is at the same time to betray ignorance of: a. technical basis for objections; b. deeply flawed, misleading documentation; c. expressed concerns for safety record in U.S.; d. potential for avoidable impacts in depressed economic areas; and e. the struggles of deeply affected areas to re-build a damaged economy heavily reliant on niche tourism and natural beauty.

S-J Editors wade deeply into outrageous jingoism as they trivialize citizen efforts to get serious concerns addressed. Many of us have made real sacrifices, both personally and in our immediate families, and deserve your undying gratitude. The Editors do great disservice to our history, our flag and our citizens by dismissing us as mere NIMBY-ers. You, dear Editors, need to brush up on requirements for being a well-informed and conscientious American citizen.

Toni Seger's picture

very poorly written editorial

Besides trumpeting patriotism, this editorial says nothing about the numerous issues presented by residents since low military flights were proposed in 2007. A newspaper's editorial board has a responsibility to address the concerns of its readers which this editorial completely failed to do. The idea of low military flights over western Maine isn't a new one and there's always been plenty of opposition. Governor John McKernan and Senator Bill Cohen fought this idea when it was first proposed because they correctly understood how devastating it would be to an economy that was already struggling. Senators Snowe and Collins recently addressed a new issue in a letter they sent to the Secretary of the Air Force. "...basing F-35s in Burlington would warrant a significant revision to the Air National Guard's draft EIS proposing to reduce the minimum F-15 and F-16 training altitudes in Condor 1 and Condor 2. is our understanding that other aircraft authorized for operations in the Condor MOAs, including the F-35, would not be restricted from operating at the lower minimum altitude."
The Sun-Journal should consider writing an editorial that does justice to this issue and the residents of western Maine.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great editorial, Mr.

Great editorial, Mr. Rhoades.
Everyone clamors for freedom and liberty, but all, Mainers in particular, want it to be done in silence.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Thank you

Thank you Rex well said.


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