U.S. military aircraft noise halts enrollment ceremonies at elementary schools

U.S. military aircraft noise halts enrollment ceremonies at elementary schools

At around 10:30am on April 10, F-18 Hornet fighter jets including the same type as crashed in Virginia flew to Futenma Air Station in Ginowan. (Photograph taken by Mari Moromizato)

April 11, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

In the morning on April 10, a number of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, the type that crashed in Virginia on April 6, flew to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan. Among the 12 aircraft that flew to the base, four are based at Iwakuni Air Station (Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture) and the rest at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. Eight of the aircraft are the same type as the one that crashed in Virginia.

Twelve aircraft landed on the south side of a runway at 10:34am before repeating takeoffs and landings until around 1:00pm. When interviewed by the Ryukyu Shimpo, a representative of the U.S. Marine Corps said that it was a part of routine training exercise. We place safety as the top priority.

The elementary schools around the base carried out enrollment ceremonies on the same day and on this basis the Ginowan Municipal Office requested in writing through the Okinawa Defense Bureau that the U.S. military refrain from flying their aircraft at that time. The Second Futenma Elementary School and Takushi Elementary School of Urasoe were forced to halt their ceremonies due to the level of the aircraft noise.

The F/A-18 Hornet mentioned above crashed into an apartment building in a residential area in Virginia shortly after takeoff. The U.S. Navy stated that the aircraft suffered an engine-related mechanical failure, but the cause of the accident is still not clear.

On March 30, the Okinawa Defense Bureau requested that the U.S. side take the ceremonies into consideration. Ginowan mayor Atsushi Sakima said, “The flight of fighter aircraft to the base itself could increase the danger to the surrounding area. In the context of noise issues that exist, it was regrettable that the aircraft flew to the base on the very day when enrollment ceremonies were held. I want to lodge a protest about this.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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