Neighbors want noisy Oregon Air National Guard fighters grounded

Andrew Pritchard has taken out a line of credit to fund billboards on Northeast Cully demanding the flights over homes end. (KATU Photo)

Residents in Northeast Portland's Cully neighborhood are fed up with window-rattling flights from the Oregon Air National Guard's fighter jets.

"When these fighter jets fly over these residential civilian areas, it shakes houses, it shakes the dishes in the cupboard," said Andrew Pritchard, an activist in the Cully neighborhood.

After living in the area for a dozen years, Pritchard is now at his wits end with new and increased flights from fighter jets in and out of the base near Portland International Airport.

"I would have never chosen to buy a home where I did if I would have known it was underneath a military flight path. I just would have chosen to live somewhere else," Pritchard said.

In the last year, the OR ANG and the Port of Portland have tested a series of new flight patterns, and jets are now flying in patterns aimed at reducing noise.

"It’s sort of a corkscrew spiraling pattern from a high altitude, where the aircraft cuts the power and essentially glides into the runway," said Steve Johnson, spokesperson for the Port of Portland.

In a statement, the National Guard said its "pilots continue to do their very best to keep our noise levels down, as we train to protect the skies of the Pacific Northwest."

KATU did a series of stories on the 142nd Fighter Wing in February, including flying with them as they trained. We interviewed the base commanded, Col. Duke Pirak who explained their mission as being ready at a moment's notice to protect our skies.

"Our presence here is an essential part of the nation's sovereignty to be able to literally have the capacity to launch something to get airborne and to let others know that we're watching," Pirak says. "Generally speaking, when the public hears us taking off during the day, this is part of a regular training cycle to keep a cadre of pilots - fighter pilots - combat mission ready, ready to go at a moment's notice."

Pirak says they try to minimize noise as much as possible, as the pilots regularly train to scramble for a potential threat, including in July of 2015.

"We had a Russian capable nuclear bomber get fairly close to Oregon. Sort of probing our defenses and what not," Colonel Pirak says of the group that's been working out of the Air National Guard Base since the 1940s. "When you're talking about protecting Seattle, protecting critical infrastructure, protecting Portland, that's the 142nd Fighter Wing Redhawks."

Pritchard has taken out a line of credit to fund billboards on Northeast Cully demanding the flights over homes end.

He has started a petition that he says is getting a boost from his billboard advertising.

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