Letter to the Editor: Private Jet Flights Risk the Environment

Submitted by Kay Corry Aubrey

As a resident living about a mile north of Hanscom Airfield, I am very worried about the proposed expansion and the potential environmental impact it could have on our community.

Since the pandemic I have noticed a substantial increase in the number and size of private jets taking off and landing in the airfield. The planned construction of new hangars, aimed at accommodating even more private jets, raises several red flags for our community. 

Though the developer recently reduced the proposed number of hangars he wants to build from 27 to 17, he doesn’t say whether the square footage for jet storage space has been reduced. Any expansion of the airfield’s capacity contributes to our climate emergency as much as it threatens the health of the people who live nearby. Further, Hanscom Airfield is used mostly by private jets, which are owned by ultra-rich individuals.

The carbon emissions from these jets contribute significantly to air pollution, and the palpable scent of jet fuel during my walks is disconcerting. Inhaling these fumes not only affects the quality of our outdoor experiences but also raises valid health concerns, as the noxious fumes burn my lungs. The area affected by these fumes is large – many times I’ve detected them when riding on the Minuteman Bike Trail in Lexington and Concord.

Bedford, like many other towns in Massachusetts, has diligently worked to reduce carbon emissions and promote environmental sustainability. The proposed expansion at Hanscom Airfield threatens to undermine these collective efforts, reintroducing a substantial amount of carbon fuels into the atmosphere. This is not only counterproductive but could reverse the progress we have made in combating climate change. To offer a sense of scale, the emissions from one private jet round trip to Asia equals the emissions of an entire rural family in India over their entire lifetime. 

We must stand united in protecting our environment and the well-being of our residents. A study by the Institute of Policy Studies found that at least half the flights out of Hanscom are to luxury (and not business) destinations. Encouraging the growth of an airport primarily catering to wealthy people for short flights to their second and third homes sends the wrong message about our town’s values and priorities. Please join the opposition to this project by signing the petition to Governor Healy to stop this project. 

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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Otti McCutcheon
December 8, 2023 8:34 pm

I’d be interested in knowing if these smaller airplanes would be using leaded fuel, which would have an impact on the health of our community as well.

Kathryn Rifkin
December 13, 2023 8:40 am

I believe they do burn leaded avgas, and that is a very big concern.

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