To find out just how loud an airshow can get, we traveled to Southport airport minutes away from Portage la Prairie to take in the now infamous Manitoba AirShow. Despite hours waiting to get in, were still looking forward to seeing the last 2 performances; the CF-18 Hornet solo and the world renown SnowBirds (431 Air Demonstration Squadron) out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Arriving just before 3 p.m. we were able to move to a few hundred meters from the main runway and noticed out of hundreds of people only one you boy and his mother wearing foam earplugs. At first it was a surprise that so few wore earplugs until the the start of the CF-18 Hornet performance. Using a professional quality data logging sound meter supplied by QuestMusicStore.com, we didn't register a lot of hits over 90 dBs as the jet fighter maneuvered what appear to be a at least 1000m plus away from our spot in the crowd.
So far, so good we thought until the 2nd half of the show. The Hornet had disappeared from sight momentarily only to reappear behind the crowd and roared over head a few hundred feet above the ground. Although we barely managed to snap any photos as the fighter jet thundered overhead, but the sound meter did register a new all time high dB level for us at a Manitoba event - 113.6 dB - wow, that was loud!
The Final Performance: Canadian Forces Snowbirds
The iconic CT-114 Tutor is the current aircraft flown by the Snowbirds. Originally purchased in the 1960s as a dual seat jet trainer for RCAF student pilots, the Tutors flown by the Snowbirds have upgraded turbine engines to improve performance during low altitude aerobatics flying.
The thunderous roar of the jet engines definitely adds excitement to an airshow - more so when you don't see them coming!
As usual the team put on a spectacular show of precision flying and like the Hornet they were a significant distance, 1000m+ away from the crowds. The sound meter registered dB levels in the high 80s on and off throughout the show. That is until they took a page from the Hornet's playbook and buzzed the crowd passing several hundred feet directly over head. Sure enough the sound meter registered another high reading - 103.4 dBs! Not bad for an updated 1960's training jet.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
The Mb Airshow this year had some very loud readings on the dB meter. Luckily they were only for a few seconds and not sustained over any significant length of time. But, we do have to remember that even one loud noise "event" for a split second can indeed cause hearing loss that may well become permanent.
The CF-18 Hornet produced the highest sound level we recorded - 113.6 dB
At 110 dB, roughly the sound levels associated with chain saws or loud rock concerts, the exposure time to damage human hearing is just 1.5 minutes according to the US CDC. the Hornet's 113.6 dB is approaching the 120 dB threshold for a one time exposure that does irreparable damage to your hearing. At 113 dB compare to 110 dB the sound level has actually doubled in strength which cuts the exposure limit to just 45 seconds. But, by the time just a few seconds has elapsed the Cf-18 Hornet is so far away it doesn't pose a threat any more. That said, we prefer to stay on the side of caution and wear hearing protection anytime we think noise levels will exceed the high 80's for any length of time.
We prefer to stay on the side of caution and wear hearing protection anytime we think noise levels will become uncomfortable.
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For more on hearing safety and hearing protection we suggest reading: Can one single loud noise cause hearing loss?