Letters to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | OLF history, context matter

Editor,

I am hoping that this will provide a little historical perspective to the Outlying Field Coupeville noise debate.

OLF Coupeville was put into operation in September 1943 owing to the exigencies of World War II. Grumman F4F Wildcats were the aircraft carrier fighters practicing touch-and-go landings at the facility. These were propeller-driven aircrafts, much quieter than today’s jets.

These were followed in succession by Grumman F6F Hellcats and Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers. Then in the 1960s came the jets:  first the Douglas A-3D Skywarriors, then the Grumman A-6 Intruders and EA-6 Prowlers, and now the Boeing EA-18G Growlers.

Each successive aircraft brought an increase in noise level.

The present EA-18G produces an unprecedented level of noise, unimagined in the 1940s. To those who claim this represents the “sound of freedom” and if you don’t like it then you’re the enemy, I would suggest you’re simplistic in the extreme.

Try listening to this racket at midnight when peaceful sleep would be a reasonable alternative. According to a quote directly from the Commander, Navy Installations Command, or CNIC, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station’s history page, “Newcomers are still struck by the fact that a military installation and small community can live together in such harmony.

“The spirit of excellence touches everyone here — on the job, in the fleet and in the community — making this a favorite duty location and retirement home of choice.”

Commander, if you really want harmony, support the removal of the EA-18 squadrons to a more suitable remote location where they are not a hazard to the surrounding countryside and its citizens.

These airplanes are unacceptably noisy. They are also unacceptably dangerous with their low-level touch-and-go operations.

Their relocation will be more than offset by the increasing number of Boeing P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft – a 737 derivative – from 24 to 49 as announced earlier this year.

These will keep NAS Whidbey humming for years to come.

It should be obvious to any naval commander that EA-18s and P-8As are not a good mix at any facility.

Do us all a favor and support the relocation of the noisy, intrusive, and dangerous EA-18s away from Whidbey Island.

They don’t fit here.

Even better, support changing OLF Coupeville into a general aviation airport.

It could be of enormous benefit to Whidbey in the future by encouraging air travel to and from the island with relatively quiet aircraft.

Robert Jobe

Freeland

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