Letter: Navy Growlers are clearly harmful to people’s health


Although I live in Langley, I wanted to weigh in on the issue of Growler noise resulting from training flights out of Coupeville.

In the early 1970s, I walked the John Muir trail and while on that three-week journey, laid over for a day at a high mountain lake about 20 miles from the nearest point of access.

The next morning, while washing clothes in a coffee can, two jets, F-15 types, came out of nowhere and buzzed the lake. I dropped the coffee can and ducked, crouching down, putting my hands over my head.

About two weeks ago I was up at the dump in Coupeville, when out of nowhere a Growler took off, and I dropped my rubbish and ducked, crouching down and putting my hands over my head.

What the Navy’s doing is asking anyone within earshot of the Growler’s horrendous sawing through the air to consciously ignore the brain’s signal to duck and cover.

This is an autonomic response, like the eye’s startle to bright light. Anyone who must endure a regular barrage causing the brain to signal duck and cover each time, but the conscious mind intervenes and identifies the noise as training flights, is living in a constant state of dissonance.

The brain wants to protect, hide, shield against the existential auditory assault, but they are familiar. Said differently, each time the brain perceives the Growler’s noise, the flight response (no pun intended) is triggered.

So the local citizens are living in an area where their brains are constantly, autonomically telling them to leave.

This is tantamount to living in a war zone. I defy anyone to make an argument that this is not bad for one’s health. Noise, sound vibration, has been used extensively in human torture.

The solution to this problem, and all of our other problems as well, is to elect leaders who support redistributing our tax monies to programs that protect and promote the peace and well being of the general population. We could cut the defense budget in half for starters, and use a foot note of that money to transfer the whole Navy presence on Whidbey Island to a more suitable location, one of the many spots you see from 30,000 feet as you fly the length and breadth of this beautiful country.

One thing that’s undeniable is the Navy got the name right: Growler. It’s hard to describe the sound, it’s so wide and grating, how it pushes out across the landscape, and down; how in the half-loopy flight pattern, the exhaustive power is held in restraint, maybe like a monster hot rod with an ungodly amount of horsepower, that will do 400 in a quarter mile, cruising your neighborhood repeatedly, at 15 miles an hour, with the headers open.

How long would it take to solve this problem if it occurred in the town of those in a position to resolve it?

S.V. Horton


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