(1) What is Tucson Forward?
We are a non-partisan diverse group of over 600 forward-thinking residents of the City of Tucson and Pima County whose backgrounds include small business owners, real estate developers, doctors, lawyers, educators, engineers, community and neighborhood leaders, students, and retirees.
(2) What do we want for Tucson?
We seek an economically vibrant and diverse city of Tucson where the University of Arizona and all our educational institutions thrive, where our downtown redevelopment succeeds and the central city with its businesses and communities around it are not degraded and rendered uninhabitable, where small businesses grow, where the tourism and hospitality industries are not irreparably damaged, and where we can safely live and enjoy the beautiful and fragile outdoors. We seek a Davis Monthan (DM) which acts responsibly, respects our concerns, listens to the concerns of the neighborhoods over which it operates, and conducts its operations in a manner that is safe and suitable to and compatible with our fragile ecosystem.
(3) What is Operation Snowbird (OSB)?
OSB officially began in 1975 as a National Guard program supported by the Arizona Air National Guard (ANG) to provide training to northern tier air national guard flying units at Davis Monthan (DM) during 2 week periods between November and April. The OSB aircraft initially operated were F-100 and A-7s.(Wyle Study*, pp.5,18-19)
Between 1988-1992, OSB aircraft dramatically changed from F-100 and A-7s to F-16s, which are far noisier and less safe. In 2000 the program again drastically changed from a 6 month program to a year around program, including training of international pilots. From 2000 to present, the type of OSB aircraft again substantially changed, adding C-130, F-18, helicopters, F-15, British Tornados, Harriers and F-3s, among others.(Wyle Study, pp.23-25).These changes increased the noise levels on a more sustained basis and presented additional concerns about the safety of these aircraft.
In short, OSB has substantially and dramatically changed since 1975, in terms of its current mission, number of flights, types of aircraft and the safety records of these aircraft operating over our community.
(4) Is OSB currently in compliance with Federal law?
No, OSB has not been in compliance since approximately 1988 when the program drastically and substantially changed.
In 1978,the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) required that ANG conduct an Environment Assessment (EA) of OSB. However, the EA did not meaningfully assess the nature and extent of the aircraft flying and training over Tucson.(Wyle Study, pp.7,54)
NEPA requires that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed before major federal action is undertaken which significantly affects the quality of the human environment. An EIS differs from an EA in that an EIS is a far more rigorous and complete process and also requires a review of alternative locations to the proposed federal action.
In November 2008, DM requested that an EIS be conducted of OSB, but inexplicably its request was denied.(Wyle Study, p.54) We have been told since October 2010 that an EA will be conducted, instead of an EIS which we and DM seek.
We agree with DM that OSB has substantially changed since 1978 and such that an EIS is required. .
(4) What do we seek?
We want OSB to comply with Federal law. We want the Federal government to conduct a full EIS which completely assesses OSB flight operations in and over our community in relation to the 1975 OSB program and the 1978 EA. We also want the EIS to explore relocating OSB to a location more conducive with its current and future missions, which may include the F-35. The safety record of the F-35 is unknown, and it is by far the noisiest fighter plane ever produced.
(5) If OSB is relocated will programs like it end?
No. There are other programs like OSB operating within the United States with whom OSB competes. In fact, OSB uses a brochure seeking to bring international and other pilots from throughout the country for training in Tucson.
(6) If OSB relocates from DM will Tucson lose lots of jobs and money?
No. There are no detailed studies which demonstrate that a substantial number of jobs or money will be lost if OSB were relocated, only speculation. In fact, a well-equipped and modern dormitory complex currently provides accommodations for OSB personnel, so they do not live “in town”. In addition, each flying unit brings its own aircraft, pilots and certain support staff (Wyle Study, pp. 11-13). Since the economic benefits of OSB have never been reliably determined, it must be assumed it is insignificant when compared to that contributed by tourists, visitors, the University and other segments of the economy that may being adversely affected by OSB flyovers**.
(7) What can I do?
* LEARN more about Operation Snow Bird at WWW.TucsonForward.com. Search for Snowbird Program, Snowbird Brief, & Neighborhood Response to DM-50 Vision of OSB.
* SIGN UP with Tucson Forward. Help us make Tucson safer & healthier economically & physically.
* WRITE letters to the editor bringing up the issues of safety & noise that have been ignored. State the facts & dispel the myths that have been circulated.
* CONTACT media & press & ask them to do in-depth investigative reporting including the perspective of the large number of residents who have been negatively affected, but so far ignored. The more letters & calls they receive, the more likely they are to cover it.
* ATTEND OSB Scoping Meetings (dates & locations to be announced shortly). Make your concerns known to EA presenters & to other attendees.
* SPEAK with your neighbors & friends about it.
* ASK political candidates what their positions are on Operation Snowbird and the F-35.
* SUBMIT WRITTEN QUESTIONS & COMMENTS with your concerns to:
The Honorable Michael B. Donley
Secretary of the US Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20330-1670
Fax: (703) 693-9297.
Mayor Bob Walkup, email@example.com, (520) 791-4201
Ward 1 Council Member Regina Romero, firstname.lastname@example.org, (520) 791-4040
Ward 2 Council Member Paul Cunningham, email@example.com, (520) 791-4687
Ward 3 Council Member Karin Uhlich, firstname.lastname@example.org, (520) 791-4711
Ward 4 Council Member Shirley Scott, email@example.com, (520) 791-3199
Ward 5 Council Member Richard Fimbres, firstname.lastname@example.org , (520) 791-4231
Ward 6 Council Member Steve Kozachik, email@example.com, (520) 791-4601
TUCSON’S FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS!
* During 2009-2010,Wyle conducted a study of OSB on behalf of DM and ANG and issued its report in late 2010.The report is based solely on information furnished to it by DM and ANG. Wyle neither audited the information provided to it, it termed some of the data collection ”inconsistent,” nor did it conduct its own testing. (Wyle Study,pp54-55) References to the Wyle Study here refer to certain pages of its study and the documents upon which it is based. http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtY3JjdHVjc29ufGd4OjQ4ZTM1YjJkYWM5NDg3Mjk
Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau “….. help support 40,000 local jobs…. generate $3 billion in economic impact to the region….more than four million overnight visitors a year….
** http://www.treoaz.org/Industry-Strengths-Tourism.aspx “44,200 employees….. $2 Billion in revenues”quoting Tucson Regional Economic
Opportunities, who list their source as Arizona Workforce Informer February 2007, 2005 Star 200, 2003 County Business Patterns, MTCVB 2004-05 Annual Report
December 3, 2010 By Joe Higgins & Chris DeSimone “Inside Tucson Business ”
Is it just Tucson International Airport (TIA) that will be affected if the F-35 is assigned to Tucson?
Answer: No, Davis-Monthan AFB will also be impacted. Reference is made in the Tucson EIS brochure to the ANG 162nd Operation Snowbird program which is based at DMAFB. “While Davis-Monthan AFB is not a candidate for bedding down the F-35A, a small portion of the F-35A training may require limited use of the flightline and other facilities on Davis-Monthan AFB. Additionally, the Air Force may use airspace managed and scheduled by Davis-Monthan AFB if the Arizona Air National Guard Base at TIA is selected for the F-35A beddown.”
Would the high-accident and high-noise contours expand if the F-35 is assigned to TIA? Could my home be designated “Incompatible with Residential Use”?
Answer: It is very likely that the high-accident and high-noise zones will expand with the assignment of the F-35. Since we have not been told what the exact noise levels will be and the location of the flight paths, it is difficult for citizens who will be impacted to know if their property will be designated “Incompatible with Residential Use”. This designation will likely lower property value and make it more difficult to sell. Before and After the F-35 Contours for Eglin AFB
Lack of Representation:
Has the Tucson City Council or the Pima County Board of Supervisors taken a position on the assignment of the F-35 to Tucson?
Answer: No Neither governing body has taken a position on the F-35 despite the Mayor’s letter of support written to Air Force leadership. Perhaps, due to the division in the community and strong debate, Councilmembers and the City Manager have to date dodged mounting requests for a flyover and evaluation of the economic impact on urban Tucson. Since computer modeling has little meaning to those who will be impacted should the F-35 be assigned, it will only be at the point when assignment is made that citizens will experience the actual noise. It is likely that citizens will question the lack of due deligence on the part of both the City and Pima County.
Has the D-M 50, the support group for Davis-Monthan AFB, lobbied for bringing the F-35 to Tucson?
Answer: Yes, in 2004, partly through taxpayer funding, the D-M 50 commissioned a White Paper supporting bringing the F-35 to DM. This White Paper was taken to Washington. This prompted a residents’ White Paper.
Are others supporting the F-35 without first securing approval?
Answer: Yes, Congresswoman Giffords has failed to host any public input meetings, but assures the Air Force that the community welcomes the F-35. Mayor Walkup has failed to secure the vote of the City council, yet advocates on City of Tucson letterhead for the F-35. Dr. Shelton, the President of University of Arizona, has failed to engage students and the Faculty Senate and is advocating for more, louder planes over the University.
Does the Military Community Relations Committee (MCRC) or its predecessor the MC3 offered a public forum for reducing the number and type of fighter jets over the central city?
Answer: No An example would be the MCRC’s inability to foster constructive dialog relating to Operation Snowbird, the Air National Guard program based at DM which brings year-round visiting fighter jets to train. Following several citizen letters to Washington with hundreds of signatures, Davis-Monthan commissioned the Wylie Study to assess Operation Snowbird. The release date of this study is several months delayed. There is speculation that an EIS will be required for this substanially expanded program.
Has the MCRC discussed the F-35?
Answer: There has been a presentation by the ANG and also a noise presentation followed by a vote by the MCRC to recommend to the Air Force EIS contractors that a flyover be done in Tucson. See letter from the MCRC chair. There is some member sentiment that the MCRC bylaws cover only relations between Davis-Monthan and the community. Since the bylaws don’t address TIA, some argue that the F-35 should not be part of the MCRC discussions.
Have our public officials ever worked to reduce the number of fighter jets over urban Tucson?
Answer: Yes, and enthusiastically. After the crash of a fighter jet at the University of Arizona in 1978 that took the lives of two sisters, the Air Force, citizens, elected Congressional officials, City Mayor and Council, and the UA Faculty Senate worked in earnest to reduce military flights over the central city. 1978 letter from the Air Force
In 1979, the University of Airizona Air Traffic Committee was established by then UA President Schaefer to “work with DMAFB officials to explore ways to reduce the amount of air traffic over the University, and to minimize air traffic hazards to the community.”
In 1980, Congressman Morris K. Udall in his report to Pima County, summarized plans for diverting much of the Air National Guard and Davis-Monthan AFB training activity away from population centers. Udall Newsletter
The 1992 Air Force Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) report for DMAFB states, “Traffic patterns will be designed to minimize overflights of populated areas.” See Page 31 of the DM AICUZ
In the mid 1990′s, the City of Tucson and the State of Arizona proposed extending the D-M runway to the southeast away from the densley populated areas. They pledged $40M to be matched by the Federal Government. In a 1995 article by The Tucson Weekly’s Dave Devine, he questions the worth of extending the DM runway.
In 1997, the U. S. House of Representatives reported on the status of the DM runway extension. In 1999, Sen. John McCain announced in a press conference that there would not be Federal funding for the DM runway extension.
Has There Been a Change in Policy Concerning Military Flights Over Urban Tucson?:
Answer: Yes, but this occurred without input from the residents of the central city.
Will residents here file a lawsuit against the Feral Government like they have done in Valpariso and Virginia Beach?
Answer: The situation in Tucson seems remarkably similar to Valpariso and Virginia Beach. It would stand to reason that such a lawsuit might well happen in Tucson, especially since the Valparison and Virginia Beach lawsuits were successful. Such legal action by citizens/neighbors will cost taxpayers, and must be included in any economic analysis.
If TIA is being considered for this training mission that uses live ordinance, presumably live ordinance is allowed to be loaded there?
Answer: No. Actually only dummy ordinance can be loaded at TIA. This facility will need to be built with an associated cost to the federal government or live ordnance would have to loaded at Davis-Monthan which would expand the flight path over the City.
Won’t there be economic loss associated with decreased property values.
Answer: There are many studies which show the adverse effects of unwanted sound and safety concerns. However, the burden of proof is on the home owner, and often these are long term costs that take time to incur. In short, this is an unfair and not good situation for home owners and neighborhoods. FAA Study of Impact of Airport Noise on Property Values
What are these economic benefits I keep hearing about?
Answer: The analyses you hear about are not necessarily complete. Costs associated with the exclusion of base personnel from Arizona State Income tax, for example, should be included in any cost/benefit analysis. Lest there be another tax payer bailout like the kind we have been experiencing lately, there needs to be rigorous thought associated with our actions, not self serving empty claims.
Will there be another crash in Tucson like the one that killed and injured many in 1978 at the UA campus?
Answer: The Joint Land Use Study is an important study on this issue made by the powers that be. On page 5-5 in the JLUS it states: “Areas around airports are exposed to the possibility of aircraft accidents even with well maintained aircraft and highly specialized flight crews…history demonstrates that aircraft related accidents will occur around airports.” The JLUS goes on to say that “…data…indicates a clear pattern of accidents centered along major flight tracks.”
What’s this I hear about homes in Tucson being in an “incompatible with residential use zone”?
Answer: Many homes in Tucson have already been put in a zone considered “unlivable” in terms of noise and safety. Many of these homes are closer to the UofA than to DMAFB. It all depends on where and which planes fly. A great many more homes might be considered “unlivable” if actual noise measurements are taken. In the book “The Effects of Noise on Man” by Karl Kryter, p. 575 “…at a distance of only one mile to the side of an airport, the aircraft noise is neglible (LDN less than 55). However, at the end of the runway (on the flight path), an LDN of 55 dB is not reached until about 6 miles from the end of the runway.” In Tucson, the flight path cuts right across the center of the city, affecting thousands.
Aside from crash concerns, aren’t there health effects associated with unwanted noise?
Answer: Many studies have shown negative effects associated with excessive noise (noise is typically defined as “unwanted sound”). It’s been shown to increase blood pressure, and affect children’s ability to read and learn. Here is one study on the relationship between noise and strokes.
Aside from crash concerns, are there health effects associated with exhaust emissions from jets.
Answer: There have been allegations or concerns of cancer clusters, for example, near airports, but direct correlations are difficult to prove without further study. Such study might take years to complete, and such studies may not be undertaken at all. The Navy has estimated the cost per flight hour of the F-35 to be $31,000 indicating the burning of large quanities of jet fuel.