The U.S. Military and its allies expect the F-35 lightning to be their main fighter jet for the next generation. Eglin is currently the primary home for training F-35 pilots. But several years ago that status was threatened by the nearby city of Valparaiso, which sued to stop the program, claiming the additional jet noise would ruin residents' quality of life. It's those stories that brought Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to Eglin Wednesday to see...and hear...for himself.
"Vermont is one of the bases that are being considered for the F-35. We're very excited about having the F-35. We really came down here because as you can imagine in any community there's those who are excited about it and those who are concerned about noise" said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. Shumlin says he's heard opinions about the jet, but not the jet itself.
"I want to be able to look Vermonters in the eye and say listen I’m not just taking someone's word for it. I stood there and I listened to the F-16's and I listened to the new F-35's and this is the result of what I heard" said Governor Shumlin.
Eglin's F-35 Director of Operations Lieutenant Colonel Eric Smith says the Air Force shares the same concerns as neighboring residents.
"Having been in the air force now for eighteen years no matter what we do as a service it's always with concern about our impact on the surrounding neighborhoods" said Eric Smith.
After hearing the both the F-16 and the F-35 in a fly by training session Governor Shumlin says it's obvious the F-35 is not as noisy as it has been portrayed. He also believes F-35's will be good for Vermont's economy.
"What it means for us is jobs, economic opportunity and ensuring our guard remains one of the best guards in the country. We've got an extraordinary air guard" said Governor Shumlin.
Gov. Shumlin says he's learned enough to feel comfortable about F-35's making Vermont a training home. Valparaiso city officials ended-up dropping that lawsuit they filed to stop the F-35's from coming to Eglin.