TOMS RIVER, NJ – Social media has been buzzing this week after residents took to their phones to voice concerns over extremely low-flying jets and helicopters the past few days. If you live in a town like Jackson, you’re probably familiar with those noises; however, this week, residents in neighboring communities began hearing the same noises.
The sounds of low-flying planes were accompanied by the report of heavy weapons fire and explosions.
Window sills rattled. The dogs freaked out.
Typically, Ocean County is one of the quietest and most serene places to live in New Jersey, but that won’t be the case for the next two weeks as America’s fighting men and women will be conducting two weeks of military training over at Joint Base McGuire, Dix, Lakehurst.
Each month, the Department of Defense releases a public training schedule that warns residents of impending noise issues from training at the base.
This current round of training began on Monday and is expected to run through the end of the month. As a result, base officials declared this period a ‘high noise’ alert. A condition red in their monthly noise calendar.
That includes firing heavy crew weapons such as 50 caliber machine guns, cratering explosives, grenade launchers, mortars, and artillery.
Most locals don’t see the noise as a nuisance, instead affectionately referring to it as the sounds of freedom.
The base is often used for the weekend, and annual training by the New Jersey National Guard, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. NaIn addition, the site is home to multiple heavy artillery units for the guard and Marine Corps units that train regularly at the base.
The low-flying aircraft are also training runs conducted by the Department of Defense. Typically flight paths take the heavy aircraft north through Jackson Township, where they turn east before heading back to the south over areas of Manchester before heading back in a loop back to the Lakehurst runway.
Occasionally, other aircraft training takes place outside of that normal pattern.
The flight paths used to be lower and further into Jackson, but about ten years ago, after residents in neighboring senior citizen communities lodged complaints, the Department of Defense adjusted the flight paths to be slightly less of a disturbance for residents.