By The Associated Press
COLUMBUS— It’s been a little quieter around Columbus Air Force Base, and if nearby residents had complaints about noise levels or safety, they didn’t voice them during a presentation this week by Col. Barre Seguin, commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing.
The Commercial Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/ILAdR5) a recent study of noise and accident potential indicated both have dropped significantly.
Part of the reason for the drop in noise levels is a change in aircraft. The base is phasing out use of the Cessna T-37 Tweet, a twin-engine jet trainer known for its high-pitched shriek. Pilots now are training on quieter T-38 Talons and the T-6 Texan II.
Pilots also are forbidden to fly at altitudes of 1,000 feet or lower over heavily populated areas and can fly no lower than 400 feet in non-congested areas, Seguin said.
Changes in flight patterns have altered potential accident zones. The highest risk of an accident is on the base itself.
Seguin said the community and the base have a long history of working together and the impact study is primarily a list of land use recommendations for noise and safety.
Lowndes County Supervisor John Holliman said people initially were concerned about noise hurting property values, but their concerns have subsided.
“Anything that helps the air base will help us,” Sanders said.
The study was conducted as part of a Defense Department program that considers impact of military bases on their communities.
Seguin said Columbus consistently ranks high in providing community support to the base.
“This is to team up with the community,” Seguin said. “We’re doing our best to mitigate concerns.”