Sonic Booms vs. The American Way

Dr Richard Bargen, Box 117, Gabbs, Nevada

By Peter Armitage (reviewer)

* I was in my trailer, and it just shook terrible, and a couple of pictures fell down and pictures on the wall went crooked, and when the next one came over, oh it took the light over the dining room table there, right off... And they blasted. I'm telling you my nerves just tightened up and I was two hours getting them down. And they say twenty a day? I wouldn't be able to stand it.

* My God! You never seen anything like it. No son of a bitch would be able to live. Even the dog ran up to me and stood there and whined. Oh man, that was awful.

-- Two accounts of military sonic booms

ACROSS CANADA, FROM NORTH-eastern B.C. to Labrador, from Snow Drift, Northwest Territories to North Bay, Ontario, native and other rural peoples are fighting military take-overs of their skies. This book will be of great interest to all Canadians, rural people in particular, who are concerned about the environmental and health effects of sonic booms and subsonic military jet noise. Bargen's book, basically a compilation of statements from the public and military officials at environmental impact hearings in the southwestern U.S., provides detail on the human misery caused by military jet training.

We hear from the Shoshone Indians whose reserves are showered with thousands of sonic booms per year. We hear from ranching people in Nebraska whose cattle had to be destroyed because they were startled by a sonic boom and were severely injured after crashing through a barbed wire fence in fright. We also hear from an elderly couple who purchased property in rural Nevada, only to have their tranquil retirement shattered by sonic booms that punched out their windows and terrified them.

The book helps to expose military misinformation. For example, on September 4, 1979, Captain Gauntt of the USAF told residents of Valentine, Texas that "Concorde boom overpressure is four times what the F-15 is." Bargen replies: "The Air Force is imparting important misinformation here... The predicted value for a nominal boom from Air Force flights in the Valentine SOA was ... at least two times greater than the value that sank the Concorde's hopes for flights over continental U.S."

Finally, at the back of the book, Bargen provides us with a short essay on the "Physics of Sonic Booms" to help demystify this phenomenon. The essay presages a second book due for publication in the spring of 1988 on the health effects of sonic booms and subsonic jet noise. Let's hope Bargen's next venture is as interesting and useful as his first. p Peter Armitage is a Labrador researcher.

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1988

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1988, page 24. Some rights reserved.

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