July 17, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Under pressure from angry residents, the Melbourne Airport Authority agreed Wednesday to search for a legal or regulatory foothold it could use to stop AeroGroup Inc.'s F-16 jet flights at Melbourne International Airport, Florida.
The loud fighter jets used during AeroGroup's training last month of Dutch military pilots have generated one of the largest public outcries in South Brevard County in recent years.
The seven-member Airport Authority board voted to have a workshop to determine what power the authority might have to shut down the company's F-16 operations -- which could expand soon with the company's plan to base 14 F-16s in Melbourne. The workshop will be followed by a special meeting, at which the board hopes to take some formal action against the company.
Some residents have supported the flights, describing it as a patriotic endeavor and a fun sight to see. But many others have said the roar of the military jets has awakened children at night, and the vibrations have cracked walls and ceilings.
The Airport Authority has been bombarded with complaints about AeroGroup since the company hosted pilot training for the Royal Netherlands
Air Force using F-16s last month at Melbourne's airport.
Despite opposition from local residents and officials because of noise and safety concerns, AeroGroup officials have said they want to continue offering military flight-training services with F-16s. looks to stop