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    F-18's Will Shake LB Again...Not For U.S. Defense, But In "Fly By" For Toyota Grand Prix of LB

    (April 11, 2003) -- LB neighborhoods, shaken by three Navy F-18's taking off from LB Airport on March 30 for a "fly by" of a CA Angels game, will get shaken again two weeks later on Sunday April 13...and neighborhoods beyond may also hear the din -- this time in a scheduled fly by of four F-18's.

    It's not for national defense, but for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

    A press release from the event indicates an Air Force F-18 fly over will precede the Sunday April 13 race at 1:00 PDT. [ The release doesn't indicate a take-off time.] The release states in pertinent part:

    "[F]our F-18 fighters, based in China Lake, will circle Palos Verdes and San Pedro before making their run toward the downtown Long Beach area and the 1.97 mile Grand Prix race circuit on the city streets surrounding the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center."

    A has advised us that three F-18's were seen arriving this afternoon (April 11) at roughly 5:15 p.m. on LB Airport's main runway 30 (Los Altos approach).

    The approach may have been loud...but it is nothing compared to the F-18 take offs.

    When three F-18's took off from LB Airport following a March 30 fly by for an Angels game, homeowners in one ELB neighborhood were observed coming out of their homes onto porches, some fearing an explosion had taken place. Those F-18 take offs took place in the early evening or mid evening. One F-18 departed at 6:35 p.m. on Runway 30 and flew over the harbor, making a left 180 degrees turn and flying north directly back over the airport with a climbing altitude of 15,000 ft. The other two F-18's departed together in formation at about 9:00 p.m. on Runway 30 and made a standard departure over the ocean.

    But there was nothing standard about the noise.

    The roar roughly a mile east was loud, long and, for many residents, alarming. It is standard procedure for F-18's to use afterburners on take offs, expected for military purposes but far beyond what commercial aviation generates. The impact in LB -- a "bulls eye" airport not located in a distant suburb or a city's edge but in the middle of a populated area.

    [ comment: The history of how former LB City Halls finagled expanding a former ancillary factory facility into a jet airplane commercial airport in the middle of homes, shopping centers and schools is beyond the scope of this article.]

    Following the March 30 F-18 take offs, asked LB Airport staff what the measured sound levels were. We were told the F-18's registered at or slightly below 111 db SEL [single event noise level]. LB Airport's maximum allowable single event level on departure for commercial aircraft is 102.5 dB. Sound decibels (powers of 10) reflect logarithmic increases...and a 10 dB increase is roughly (very roughly) perceived as double the noise level.

    A memo several years ago by LB Airport's acoustical consultant [attached to an airport staff report opposing new residential development proposed at the Boeing site] described noise levels as follows:

    "Each 10 dB increase is doubling of perceived loudness...At the 85 SENEL the maximum noise level is twice as loud as normal speech and would require raised voice level to communicate. At 95 SENEL the loudness would be perceived as twice as loud again and would be comparable to shouting voice level."

    By this standard, the F-18s would likely be roughly (very roughly) perceived as nearly twice as loud as the loudest allowable commercial jet aircraft.

    [ comment: LB City Hall treats all military aircraft as categorically exempt from LB's Airport noise ordinance limits and thus the F-18s are not deemed violations. In our opinion, we believe it could be argued that military aircraft hired for some corporate purpose should not qualify for this military exemption. Even if one believes they do qualify for the exemption, we believe when a fly by is part of a LB event permitted by or part of a contract with the City of LB, the City Council should in the future collect a substantial fee, paid into the General Fund by the event organizer, as a condition for allowing this impact at the LB permitted event.]

    Invoking patriotic verbiage to describe its pre-race ceremonies, the Toyota Grand Prix press release adds:

    "The fly-over is part of a pre-race ceremony that will include a joint service Color Guard presenting the American flag, as well as the Elite Frogs parachute team comprised of current and former U.S. Navy SEALS who are masters of the free-fall and canopy relative work. In addition, representatives from each of the U.S. military services will serve as Grand Marshals for the race."

    The press release notes that the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is owned and operated by Grand Prix Association of Long beach, Inc., a subsidiary of Dover Motorsports, Inc.

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