Letter: Residents located in jets’ flight path long-suffering

Editor,

I had an insight. My neighbor hired a company with a tree grinder to decimate some big laurel branches and it was making some thunderous noise next door. I whipped out my handy decibel-reading app and stood 10 feet away during the din. It read 93 dB while the grinding noise peaked. I felt my body involuntarily bracing and my pulse quickening in the racket while I rationally knew I was in no danger. During another reading on sound level, I talked out loud to myself and barely hear my voice.

I reflected on people I know in the Coupeville area’s Growler flight path who have registered not this grinder-level, not the 100 dB level of a jackhammer, but the 120 dB level of standing near a full-blown train horn as flights dip a couple hundred feet above their rooftops daily, hourly, and yes, even during their night’s seriously disturbed sleep. Experts say that the body reacts with adrenaline, cortisol and pulse spikes even when a person knows he/she is safe.

Doing the math told me this 120 dB sound is at least eight times as loud as the grinder. I knew I could leave it, but Coupevillians know it is coming back again and again several times within successive hours. Young children cower against parents who cover their ears, elderly and sick people fumble with earplugs, and average folks fight frequent insomnia and high blood pressure.

Now the killer, for 2019 the Navy wants to quadruple what’s already sound hell from 6,000 to 24,000 flight ops a year. Using an obsolete full-day sound-averaging technique they still claim the noise, in an acceptable range, will create negligible sound levels and low harm. (Their own past research papers on aircraft noise document long lists of ailments from this exact level of noise.) In 2016 a prominent economist used a mass of data from the Coupeville population and a widely used European algorithm to calculate that the current flights are affecting 11,000 residents at varying levels, and generate (conservatively) $2.8 million in extra health costs per year. Four times that is $11.2 million.

That’s “just” health. There are other dollar drains inflicted. There’s damage to tourism and reputation, e.g., Deception Pass has regularly been forced to refund passes of irate campers seeking night peace. There’s the shattered peace of outdoor working farmers and outdoor feeding animals that has steered nascent farming businesses away from developing roots on Whidbey. There’s harm to numerous real estate values under the flight paths.

Sadly, there are other well-known and used training locations for these Growlers. But the Navy is trying to stuff its big foot into the small shoe of the Outlying Field: just a 700-acre patch of land with an aged runway that’s 25 percent short of Navy regulation length and surrounded closely by houses, businesses and a highway. Normaly the Navy recommends 30,000 clear acres for such dangerous training but grants itself an unexplained exception here, upping the current unreasonable risk of a disastrous accident fourfold when flights quadruple. (A close relative of the Growler crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia just after takeoff.)

This is not a “Go Away Navy” letter, just a plea that it act firmly to preserve reasonable quality of life for its long-suffering neighbors. These people moved to the island for beauty, reasonable peace and safety, and they are now being told, in effect, to forget this.

Mark Wahl

Langley

More in Letters to the Editor

Letter: Golden Rule is what most Americans are living by

Editor, Norms, standards and behaviors. We have moved through another election cycle,… Continue reading

Letter: Writer should be ashamed of his ‘misleading letter’

Editor, Well, I hope no one ever hires Lee Rebman to analyze… Continue reading

Letter: We can do better —don’t drive under the influence

Editor, Once again, Island Thrift has fulfilled the Impaired Driving Impact Panel… Continue reading

Letter: Trump is thuggish buffoon who would be laughed at

Editor, So, we’ve come to this. A president who praises Congressman Gianforte… Continue reading

Letter: Let your representative know the changes wanted

Editor, We all know that government is slow, at least when it… Continue reading

Letter: Electromagnetic fields are all around us, affect health

Editor, In normal Whidbey life, the typical exposure of a child or… Continue reading

Letter: Letter writer was incorrect about Initiative 1631 info

Editor, Norman Bodine’s anti-Initiative 1631 letter of Oct. 9 states, “95 percent… Continue reading

Letter: Can U C Me Campaign for safety awareness

Editor, This time of year, it’s dark when I leave my house… Continue reading

Letter: Oncology team appreciates patience of its patients

Editor, Fourteen months later, WhidbeyHealth has completed the new pharmacy that meets… Continue reading

Letter: To be great again, let’s bring back compassion in America

Editor, What’s happened to our compassion? As I watch with much anxiety… Continue reading

Letter: Will continue to serve with honesty, integrity, dignity

Editor, I am writing to express my deepest gratitude for my devoted… Continue reading

Letter: Before Trump, Americans would welcome immigrants

Editor, With all the murders, extortion, rapes, etc., in Honduras, San Salvador… Continue reading