At 9:39 a.m. on Monday, a pair of F-35s took off for the first time ever from Gowen Field, Idaho Air National Guard spokeswoman Cassidy Morlock said.
Two F-16s had taken off a few minutes earlier, and a single F-15 departed shortly afterward. The noise the airplanes made got the attention of a lot of people around Boise.
Chris Ennis of NuVision Productions recorded video footage of both the F-35s and F-16s taking off. The difference in sound patterns between the planes corroborated what City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg said in August after seeing and hearing the F-35s in action at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
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“Even with (the afterburners), the ‘loud’ is pretty short-lived,” Clegg told the Idaho Statesman in August. “Coming toward you, it’s not all that loud, and then, for a bit, as it becomes parallel with you and beyond for maybe 10 seconds, there’s a lot of noise and then it’s gone.”
The F-35 has become a divisive topic in Boise over the past few years, especially since the U.S. Air Force announced in December that Gowen Field, which shares the Boise Airport’s runways, is one of five finalists for a squadron of the military’s cutting-edge warplane. A decision is expected this fall.
The F-35s that came to Boise were on display at Gowen Thunder, but they did not participate in the weekend’s air show. The Air Force’s Thunderbirds, a team of stunt-performing F-16s and pilots, were Gowen Thunder’s headline act.
In an informal Twitter poll the Idaho Statesman hosted Monday, 40 percent of 62 respondents correctly identified the time at which the F-35s took off — easily more than three other response options. But given how close in time the takeoffs were, it’s hard to know which planes had the biggest impact.
Several Twitter users didn’t seem to mind the noise.
Mike Journee, spokesman for Boise Mayor David Bieter, said that as far as he knew, the noise of the F-35s taking off Monday morning didn’t change the mayor’s mind about wanting an F-35 mission — or some other long-term flying mission for the Guard — in Boise. Bieter has heard F-35s in person several times before.
Morlock said Gowen Thunder drew 55,000 spectators Saturday and 62,000 on Sunday. It’s unclear how many of Sunday’s crowd were repeat visitors.