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AF report: F-35s will create extra noise for residents near Hill AFB

A 33rd Fighter Wing maintainer watches as the first F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter taxis in to its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 14, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — A fleet of new fighter jets coming to Utah's Hill Air Force Base in 2015 will create extra noise for nearby residents, according to an Air Force report.

The base, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City, was selected earlier this month as an operational base for the new F-35. That means 72 of the fighter jets and their pilots will be permanently based in Utah starting in 2015, increasing the volume and frequency of jet noise for those living nearby.

According to an Air Force report, the extra thrust produced by the F-35s makes them twice as loud as the F-16 jets that have been flying from the base since 1979.

The environmental impact report, which the Air Force published earlier this year, found that about 9,000 residents in Davis and Weber counties could hear the noise in 2015.

With current levels, about 7,700 residents are exposed to jet noise in those areas, the Air Force found.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that in 2015, residents will be exposed to jet noise of 65 to 70 decibels, which is equivalent to a range between a normal conversation and a vacuum cleaner.

People start experiencing hearing loss around 80 decibels, but the Air Force said no residents will be exposed to noise at that level.

Residents living northeast of the runway are most likely to notice the change.

Right now, residents with their windows open will hear jet noise about six times a day, and only twice a day if they keep their windows closed, according to the report.

After the F-35s are up and running, the Air Force expects they'll hear noise eight or nine times a day.

Nick Friddle, who lives with his wife and son in a home near that area of the runway, said his home is close enough that he can see into the cockpits of jets when the land at the base.

For the most part, Friddle said his family is used to the noise.

"Really late at night is where it's really bothersome," he said.

Jeff Monroe, the mayor of South Weber, said the city has received some resident complaints about noise over the years, but planners have tried to put some space between the base and nearby homes and businesses.

Kathy Williams, a South Weber resident, said she was aware of the base when she and her husband built their home in 2001.

"I'd rather have the base there and the jobs than not have the noise," Williams said.

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