Join Us!


Help the Lindbergh Foundation in their mission to balance technology and the environment.


Learn more abut the Foundation's programs and receive invites to upcoming 100th Anniversary events by subscribing here.

Gordon Hempton

Season four of the Lindberghs Podcast is made possible by:

Listen to this episode here, or find The Lindberghs on any podcast player such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

About this Episode

Hi there friends, it's Erik.

I became aware of Gordon “The Soundtracker” Hempton three decades ago when the Lindbergh Foundation technical review board and staff kept talking about a grant recipient who was doing groundbreaking work documenting increasingly endangered natural soundscapes. Soundscapes that were unaltered by human caused noise. I found it fascinating and disturbing that natural sounds were endangered, but intuitively it made sense.

Humans make a lot of noise. Hell, I make a lot of noise. Not only do I sometimes yell like Tarzan, but I am a woodworker who uses all kinds of noisy tools and equipment. Perhaps even more poignantly, is my career in the aviation industry, which to escape from gravity, makes tremendous noise - at altitude, and broadcasts that noise over large areas.

Accordingly, I was somewhat conflicted and mildly threatened by Hempton and his research thinking that it could curtail both my livelihood and my passion. Such perceived threats often tend to polarize people into opposite camps with the livelihoods at stake determining the specific camp.

Ripple Effect: But meeting Gordon Hempton in person and experiencing his work firsthand, made me realize not only how important his work is but that he really seeks a balanced middle ground that protects natural sounds and still allows for human activities like air travel. In fact, he explains that he uses air travel to go to exotic and remote places to record vanishing soundscapes. Gordons’s work affected me in such a way that I started applying myself to tackling aircraft noise issues and drove me further and with more urgency into the development of the electric aircraft industry. As Peter Diamandis is fond of saying - problems are often the biggest opportunities waiting to be solved.

Second Chances: In 2003, Gordon was suffering substantial hearing loss in both ears that immediately put him out of business. The doctors told him that any operation or treatment would never allow him to return to normal hearing again. So instead of treatment he settled in and waited. After 18 months his hearing gradually returned. He was so filled with Gratitude and renewed purpose that he immediately created “One Square Inch of Silence” (OSI) in Olympic National Park. This effort is what drew me in to reach to reach out to Gordon and experience OSI in person.

The Sound tracker’s 32-year path from seed grant to successful career is gaining even more momentum as Quiet Parks International is establishing quiet parks globally, and people begin to understand and advocate for how important quiet is for human health. I am so proud that The Lindbergh Foundation invested a $10,580 (the cost of the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927) grant on a bike messenger with an idea and passion. That tiny amount of support has been leveraged into a global movement reminiscent of my Grandparents efforts to conserve endangered wildlife and establish parks and refuges.

Gordon Hempton is the epitome of why we continue to enthusiastically embrace and support entrepreneurs and innovators today because they give us hope. Hope is also endangered in today’s social media world. But many problems can be solved if you give people the gift of hope.

Hope, and a chesty Tarzan yell… Enjoy this amazing journey!



Our Favorite Quotes from this Episode

The Pioneers comfort and happiness was never part of the reasons they came to Washington state. It's because they wanted a chance at a better way of life, especially for their children.


Lewis and Clark heard the pounding surf when they were eight miles from the ocean. Some modern scientists argue they were lost, but I knew from my experience that you can hear the ocean from that far away. You can even tell that it's the Pacific Ocean. I've heard it from twelve miles away.