I fear for the safety of my family. I am a 1964 Naval Academy graduate. I received my wings in 1965, flew 3,500 hours in A-Ds, F-9s and A-4s. I left the Navy in 1971. I received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1967.
My wife and I have been staunch Navy supporters for 55 years. We moved to Whidbey Island in 2006. Our Realtor told us our home was three miles from OLF Coupeville and we would have A-6 Prowlers flying near our home. We said great. It was for us, “The Sound of Freedom.”
It is not my place to refute the decision to move all EA-18G’s in the Navy to Whidbey Island. However, I do refute the decision to schedule 20,000 aircraft passes per year, infinitum, at the OLF, when 6,000 per year was the standard.
No one remotely near OLF should be subject to the unprecedented, horrific roar of the twin jet engines of the EA-18G, night and day, every day. The sheer number of EA-18Gs operating at Coupeville — north at low altitudes, at night, with inexperienced pilots — is an accident waiting to happen.
The pros fly to the OLF from a quarter mile out over the Admiralty Inlet at 800 feet with engines at cruise power, noise lessened by distance. They fly a straight line to the OLF with minimal track over homes. Their FCLP’s are tight; when they depart there is little fanfare.
My concern comes from being a witness to the far different approaches and patterns flown by the inexperienced pilots. Fast jets appear from the south, over land, 600 feet AGL, ripping the sky, blasting through and then gone. That’s their approach to OLF.
Soon, thereafter, we see them in overloaded patterns, in left turns, 600 feet AGL, three miles out from the OLF. This places the jets directly over our home — read neighborhood.
All it takes is getting too low and hitting a tree, an engine flame-out, bird strike, midair collision, et al: any one of these could be the event that kills me and my family. It is not out of the realm of possibility.
Some will read this, take a cheap shot and say “your fault you bought there.” They will have to make that same comment to all the families of Coupeville, Greenbank and Crockett Lake.
Navy, please reconsider your decision. Cut back the massive onslaught of jets at OLF. Keep us safe. This island is home for many, not just a convenient place for you to train our young aviators.
Newell G. Davis