This letter is in response to your report, “Going along for the glide,” which should have been titled “Being taken for a ride.”
In the story, your reporter quoted Lt.- Col./CO Tony Appels, cadet Christopher Eckert of Parksville and Maj. Wayne Heal.
This would hardly seem an objective basis on which to write a story, but I suppose your reporter can be excused for being swept up in the fun “while operating a plane specially constructed, for the Comox Valley Record. I’m often amazed at the things people will say, but even more incredulous that they would print it!
As I feel many discussions devolve into pettiness, I will attempt to limit myself to the “facts” of your story. Every year since the CF Glider School moved here (1997 from now-defunct CFB Chilliwack) we have had a story about “Going along for the ride.”
You have interviewed the brass, flown on their junkets, heard for yourself the “noise impact on residents neighboring the base,” from the cockpit of a plane, has your paper ever thought to investigate further?
Scott Stanfield states in your story, “in at 7:45 a.m. (that’s when we close our windows because they start flying )” they had breakfasted and started” and as the course “demands 10 to 12 hours a day from cadets” who fly “until about 7 p.m. … small wonder it is lights out at 9:30.”
I’m sure their program is exhausting. I know being woken up by it and hearing it all day is. Tonight (Aug. 4) the air was buzzing past 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. = 12 hours of 80-decibel noise. Check www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_ag/exposure_can.html).
The iPhone decibel meter that I used in my research puts the tow planes at a consistent 70 to 80 db, equivalent to a garbage truck. Imagine a garbage truck driving around your house all day. Could your scribe hear this from his cockpit?
Perhaps an objective newspaper might get a view point from an affected resident rather than accepting at face value the “deliberate practice to minimize the noise impact on the residents neighboring the base” expounded by the military authority.
Really? Any outfit that flies 2,100 flights, that is 4,200 takeoffs and landings (overflights) over a period of 36 days, at a rate of 116 flights a day, 10 per hour or one overflight every six minutes, six days a week,12 hours a day can hardly claim to “minimize the noise impact on the residents neighboring the base.”
Your reporting of this issue is bereft of any sense of objectivity, and this is evident in your reporter’s narrow range of sources (the military) and failing completely to critically analyze the numbers presented by his sources.
How many litres of aviation fuel do 2,100 tow plane flights consume, how much does it cost to maintain, store and operate theses planes? Are there Forces personnel working on this program and if so how much are they paid?
While the glider program might be great for “people who want a career in aviation,” is it really the role of the Canadian forces to do this? And the 16-year-old who can fly his first solo flight over a residential area isn’t allowed to “venture off base” unless “chaperoned, and with parents’ consent” can fly a plane on his own but not go to the mall?
Just some questions your paper might have asked.
Steve W. Hodge,
Editor’s note: As Mr. Hodge might have guessed, the piece was not intended as an investigative or hard news article, merely a feature story. We thank Mr. Hodge for his perspective from the ground.