Who’s roaring for fighter jets in Madison, and who has to hear them?

tonemadison.com, September 24, 2019 – Emily Mills

By now you’ve likely read or heard some of the coverage about the debate over whether or not to install the military’s new F-35A fighter jet at Truax Field. The voices of opposition are growing, and you can add mine to the chorus. 

Unfortunately, we’re being drowned out—and not just by the sound of afterburners going to the Danger Zone overhead. Supporters of the plan are louder and have a whole lot more money behind them, despite the fact that few actually appear to live in the areas of Madison that will absorb the most noise. I could at least understand some of the folks who worry about losing the base and its associated jobs, but an Air Force spokesperson and local Air Guard officials have all stated that Truax’s mission is vital enough that it is unlikely to close simply because the F-35s don’t come here. 

However, most of the folks who spoke in favor of the plan at a recent public meeting held at the Alliant Energy Center seemed intent on painting the issue as one of “patriots vs. snowflakes.” A recent op-ed published in Madison Magazine by John Roach took a gobsmackingly racist approach, comparing opponents of the F-35s to Ho-Chunk people resisting white settlement in Wisconsin. The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has thrown its weight and money into a pro-jet campaign, likely thanks to the promise of millions of dollars in federal funding for new construction.