Chris Barounos: Change military training route
On Thursday, a military jet swooped so low through the valley that the china in my parents’ house was literally shaking on the walls. People stuck their heads outside to get a look at what could be making such an unbelievably loud and out-of-place noise. After seeing it was a military jet, people grumbled and returned inside, seeming to deem this an acceptable reason for the disruption of their day.
An hour later, my neck started swelling up — unrelated to the plane — and I went to the 24 -hour clinic for some treatment. There was however, one group of people ahead of me: a family that had just been trampled by their horses. Did I hear that correctly? A whole family had been bucked off their horses at once and had been trampled by them, leading to severe bruising and broken bones. How did this happen? Now, very curious and fully engaged listening to this family recount their story, I hear that the aforementioned military jet had swooped right over this family on their outing. All the horses had freaked out, which sent this whole family flying off the horses’ backs. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m sorry that happened.”
But I thought to myself, whose fault was this? Was it the horses’ fault for being scared? Was it the family’s fault for engaging in the sometimes dangerous activity of horseback riding? No. It was the Air Force pilot’s fault clearly for flying so low through a populated area. How many other Yampa Valley residents’ days were interrupted in a more than menial way by this jet? And why should any of us have to deal with this?
I happen to know because I have an FAA drone pilot’s license, the reason these jets can come so close to the community is because our valley is on a military training route. This is a pathway that the Air Force is allowed to use, with two hours advanced warning to civilian airports, to give their pilots low altitude flight training. And that’s fine. My question is, why through the Yampa Valley? They could literally fly through the next valley, over Routt Country Road 33, where there are very few people at all.
I imagine since the start of the Cold War that people experience a pang of fear whenever they hear supersonic jets flying overhead. The noise alone is startling, especially for senior citizens, and I can think of hundreds of activities we are daily engaged in ranging from playing golf to reading a book in which we wouldn’t want a military jet roaring right past us. There is also just zero reason that our town should be on this military training route in the first place. Steamboat Springs is the most populated city in Routt County, and the Air Force picks our town to fly through regularly. I don’t see the purpose.
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If any Steamboat Springs City Council member reads this and agrees, can we please appeal to the Air Force to have them change their route? None of us deserve these disruptions. Please and thank you.
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