Recently, we requested the Navy consider a viable alternative to using Outlying Field Coupeville, particularly during the summer.
On many nights during summer months, which are again rapidly approaching, Growler aircraft thunder over local homes from 10 p.m. to midnight, seriously disturbing the sleep of many people in the greater Coupeville/OLF area.
The Navy owns a bit more than one square mile of property at the OLF. From a noise standpoint, however, the training activity impacts an area of around 40 square miles, almost all of which is privately owned property. This increasing training activity noise poses a serious problem for homeowners.
We submitted to the Navy an alternative which offers great promise: Use Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma for its touch-and-go operations, at least during summer.
JBLM owns a vast amount of property, about 138 square miles, much of which is under-populated vacant land. JBLM also has two airports, both having runways longer than the OLF Coupeville runway.
The McChord runway is more than 10,000 feet long, and the Gray Army Airfield is 6,125 feet long.
We have an exhibit showing a traffic pattern for each airport, for training flights in summertime, when winds typically prevail northwest to north.
The traffic patterns shown will easily accommodate five Growlers at a time. All training flights would be over JBLM property and the training pattern at both airports would be over many miles of under-populated land.
This is in sharp contrast to the current situation at OLF Coupeville, where the majority of the traffic pattern is over private property with many occupied homes and businesses.
In addition to the major benefit of flying over unoccupied government-owned property, there are other added benefits. These benefits include the safety factor of longer runways, on-site control towers, crash/fire/rescue facilities and aircraft refueling capabilities.
The recommended area also provides a much darker final approach, as opposed to the many lights in the current pattern over the Admiral’s Cove development. Coordination with other branches of the military is an added training benefit.
With JBLM only 90 miles from Coupeville OLF, it could be reached in 9 to 15 minutes at typical cruising speed for the Growlers, assuming the aircraft are not housed there.
We asked the Navy to seriously explore and consider what appears to offer a mutual significant benefit to Navy training operations and to the quality of life for thousands of people living and working in the Central Whidbey Island area. It is a win-win solution for both sides.
Robert O. Brown, retired FAA airports manager; Walt Sutton, retired business-owner; and Bill Lane, retired school superintendent