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William F. White: Station F-35s at Dane County Airport and move ahead collaboratively

Dear Editor: I support the federal government stationing a squadron of F-35 fighter jets at Dane County Regional Airport. I have lived under the principal flight path for both commercial and military aircraft for over 35 years and am very familiar with aviation necessities and movements.

When I moved into my home in 1982, I learned we were under the flight path and near the airport. I started to organize my neighborhood because of noise and perceived safety concerns and my immediate neighbor (who had lived in her house since 1951) said, “Bill, this airport has been here since the mid-1930s and you just got here three months ago.” That set me back and I started to learn about the airport and how it relates to our community.

Through those efforts I was appointed by the county executive to the Airport Commission in 1992 and was chair from 1994-2008. And I learned a lot. First, I learned that whether or not we have the federal aircraft housed here has nothing to do with national defense policy, as the aircraft will be housed somewhere in the U.S. if not here.

Second, I learned we could communicate much better with the military if we cooperated with each other. For example, we set flight patterns that took civilian and military on paths over the least populated areas in approaching and leaving the airport. (Of course, safety is the first order of business and the pilot has the ultimate responsibility to decide the safest approach to the airfield on any given flight.)

Third, I learned that while the Air Guard has some full-time personnel, the overwhelming number of are citizen airmen and women who live and work in our community.

Finally, Dane County Regional Airport is a significant economic generator for our community. With access to DCRA, we can have access to the world at large by a short trip to the airport. The federal fleet only adds to our economic vitality.

Full Article can be found here.

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