Navy pilot training not bad option for Franklin

Published 8:54 am Friday, May 6, 2011

by Scott Maynard

I hate to beat a dead horse, but the City Council’s second vote to end all consideration of the Navy’s use of the airport is still disturbing.

I truly wish I had been able to attend the April 25th council meeting. Mayor Jim Councill asked if I would come to speak, though I was unable to due not having a babysitter.

I would like to give brief background to establish my support of submitting a proposal to the Navy for use of the airfield. I am in the U.S. Navy and have been for the past 19 years. My wife and I moved to Franklin six years ago with the only regret of not having moving here a long time ago. I am a volunteer member of Franklin Fire and Rescue, and my wife is involved with the city as well. We love the city, our neighbors and our church and would not think about leaving.

Before our move, I had lived in Virginia Beach since I was 2 years old with the exception of being stationed in New York and Connecticut for six years. Having planes fly above me has always been a part of my past, from flying above my house to flying above me while I was stationed on a carrier, even to today flying above me while I am stationed at Norfolk Naval Base. It becomes a part of your life and you get used to it. Though I do not like the sound, that sound represents freedom, strength and power.

I just cannot believe that the City of Franklin will not even sit down at the table or submit a proposal to the Navy to discuss different options. City Manager June Fleming estimated the cost of providing required services at $3 million annually. How do we know that the Navy would not be willing to provide the city that amount annually? We do not know this because the city has declined to submit any proposal.

I know and fully understand it is not always about the money, that it also has to do with the comfort and happiness of life. Councilman Barry Cheatham commented that “way of life was at risk of being destroyed,” but I believe the way of life was some what destroyed when International Paper closed or when the City was flooded both in 1999 and 2006.

On April 20, Mary Barraclough wrote to the editor, saying the City of Franklin would “lose in the end because no businesses or families would want to come to our city with all that noise.” I’m sorry, but I do not see a lot of people coming here now. You can ride up Clay Street, where in the past two years at least six houses have gone on the market for sale. Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake have constantly grown in population over the years and have had a steady increase of people moving there, all while planes from the Navy fly above, as well as planes landing at Norfolk International Airport.

In the past six years, I have only seen three major businesses open in the city to help bring in revenue. If the city is trying to attract and bring businesses here, then what are they doing and who are they trying to attract to set up shop in Franklin?

Another concern of the citizens of Franklin is noise and safety. These planes are not jets but twin propelled planes. We currently have different types of helicopters from the Navy that fly above our city that essentially have the same mechanical makeup as the E2/C2s that would be flying above. To be honest with you, I find it hard to differentiate between the noise of E2/C2s and the noise from the cars driving up and down Clay with their radios blaring or the bass up so high it rattles my windows, or even the tractor-trailers driving down the street. And how can I forget the noise at 4 or 5 in the morning coming from one or both of the trains that transit through our city.

As for safety and the Navy not adhering to its proposed flight pattern, when was the last time anybody went outside and watched the helicopters fly above? Are they currently adhering to the flight pattern, or does anyone know if there is a flight pattern for them to fly? We also have small single-engine planes take off and land at the airport. There was concern of the Navy planes crashing into the city, but I do recall a few years back, a small-engine plane crashed into the trees in Isle of Wight while trying to land.

I want the citizens to know I am not for or against the Navy coming, but I was for sending in the proposal by the required deadline. The future will always be unclear, and there will always be uncertainty; my only fear is that in the future the City of Franklin will not be able to economically survive and will revert to becoming a town again.

The City of Franklin has been through a lot of hard times and has come a long way to where we are today, and I want us to continue to be a city where families and businesses want to come and live just as we have. Nobody likes change, though sometimes change is a necessity to continue on.

I truly believe that the City Council has done an unjust act to the City of Franklin by not submitting a proposal to further the talks with the Navy.

SCOTT MAYNARD is a Franklin resident who belongs to the Navy and works at Norfolk Naval Base. He can be reached at