The serenity of Western Maine was broken. On May 10, low-flying fighter jets on a training mission interrupted the night. From 9:30 to 10:10 p.m., two jets flew in an oval over the River Valley near Rumford.

Again on the afternoon of May 14, another military mission invaded the quiet. Forty minutes of loud constant noise drowned out the sound of spring peepers, disrupted classroom concentration and caused pets to react as they do in a thunderstorm.

This is just a taste of what is to come. Massachusetts Air National Guard personnel revealed there would be about 300 such flights yearly during a recent meeting in Rangeley. Four out-of-state bases plan to use the whole air space in Oxford and Franklin counties, the meeting also revealed. Each of those bases has similar terrain in their state to complete training missions.

Did they pick Western Maine for their missions because our low economic base means less political clout?

Presently, military flights are largely restricted to corridors and altitudes of 2,300 feet. I believe those restrictions are being ignored, and low-level missions are already occurring. We must not let it become a done deal. Will the continuous roar of jets mar our halcyon summer days? Residents must voice their concerns.

There will be an informational meeting on low-level military flights to be held in Farmington in July. Local, state and federal representatives need to know what people want.

Wanda Howard, Rumford


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