Letter: Need to be closer to the jet noise problem to understand

Editor,

Your take on the “noise” made by the Growlers is wrong. Normally I would not tell someone they are totally wrong but I do say that in this case, you are. My husband and I moved to Whidbey in 1980. At that time the Navy was flying Intruders and Prowlers.

Our first house was close to the airfield, on Patmore Road. We subsequently bought and built on property one mile plus, down Welcher Road a straight mile or so from the entrance to the airfield.

You were quite right in saying people make choices; that is exactly what we did. Along with many others we had weighed and concluded the noise level of the Navy training was not a major factor in making our choices. These choices were made prior to the Growlers and the drastically increased number of operations.

Fast forward to 2017 -19; we had learned a few years prior from Navy pilot friends who knew about the Growler replacing the Prowler, that it would be a much louder airplane. Believe me, it is. As I said in an earlier letter, the noise level is such that when the planes fly in our sector it is not possible to work or be outside for any purpose even with earplugs or headphones. Ask the Oak Harbor woman who wrote in defense of the complaints after she stopped at WAIF and was subjected to the noise level.

Those who made the decision regarding the noise level of the Growler knew how loud it would be but perhaps budgetary considerations dictated. I can only say that the proposed increase in training flights over Coupeville, Admiral’s Cove and environs will impose an unbelievable toll on the health and well being of the population that lives under them.

There have always been those who would like the Navy to leave. We’re not among them. We have three grandsons at the Naval Academy. One was commissioned in 2018, another will be in 2020 and the third will be in 2022. Their father flew Prowlers, was himself an Academy graduate and years later taught at the Academy. In the Gulf War we lost a beloved young man who was an Intruder pilot. We have a great deal of love and respect for our pilots and their families and certainly do not expect the Naval aviators to change places where they train. Many friends and neighbors have shared our island life proudly with these good people, but —- there need to be leaders and representatives who recognize the “Good Neighbor” policy works both ways. The civilian population of Whidbey Island, not just Oak Harbor, deserves respect from the Navy as well. As I also said in the previous letter, the Navy does not own Whidbey Island.

The threat of the base closing and shutting down business in Oak Harbor is a hostage mentality. Reasonable discussions, accurate noise measurements taken, and compromise on both sides never happened, and should have. Whatever is happening now is the result of high-handed actions on the part of some over-zealous Navy decision makers at the expense of a major piece of local goodwill. Goodwill that came from many of us who stood up to anti-military protesters targeting NAS Whidbey during the Gulf War and other more recent conflicts.

If you and others think the noise concern is only in the Coupeville locales, talk to some property owners near Deception Pass, Cornet Bay areas as well as many in north Oak Harbor. The noise of the Growler is a major concern. I encourage you to visit a place like WAIF or Admiral’s Cove when the Growlers are flying. I believe you will better understand the problem. Sincerely,

Shirley Viall

Coupeville

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