Letters to the Editor
A claque of Coupe-villains wants the entire NAS to vanish. A gabble of Oak Harborites insists that if the OLF closes, the NAS will vanish. Both, for their own specious reasons are acolytes of fantasies disconnected from reality. The base is not going to close, desire and fear notwithstanding.
As the local and base press inform us, the NAS mates new air and ground crews to four separate aircraft platforms; three at present and the fourth, the P-8A, to arrive next year. The crews are trained to execute the many missions of the Naval air arm.
While some training is conducted here, much of it is not. We are all aware of the electronic jamming wizardry of our fighter, patrol and recon aircraft, but each is a “weapons system” tasked also with delivering ordnance (missiles, mines, depth charges, etc.) on targets at sea and ashore.
Is this dangerous training conducted here? Of course not. In-flight refueling hookups; training done here? No. Weeks of joint training exercises with USAF and electronic attack aircraft from allied nations; here? No. Carrier landing training; here? Only partly.
Most military pilots greet a new aircraft at a dedicated flight simulator. It can simulate any emergency and condition of flight. After that ordeal the pilot goes airborne and learns to fly the aircraft under supervision of an instructor. The next phase for a wannabe tail hooker requires practice approaches and touch-and-go landings at a site such as the OLF at Coupeville. But the final and decisive training occurs on a sea trial where he or she must trap successfully on a carrier that is under sail.
With all these crucial aspects of training being farmed out to other locales, do you actually believe that the relocation of one especially dangerous and disruptive phase would cause
the gates to close at this military metropolis of thousands? Get a grip, people! You’re being conned.
In Oak Harbor the paper patriots have whipped the gullible into a frenzy of fear that promotes the silliness and now the meanness and incivility that victimizes the victims of the air assault on Coupeville.
The OLF is a wholly unsuitable location for the mid-phase of this training. At homes underlying the traffic pattern, conversation stops and dishes rattle when aircraft propelled by 40,000# of thrust deliver 150 decibels of irreparable sound damage to the otic systems of the inhabitants…and from a distance of only hundreds of feet. I have witnessed this cruel assault from such a home.
Although exempted from FAA noise regulations, military bases are not exempt from Accident Potential Zone (APZ) minimums. Because of population density surrounding the OLF, some minimums are exceeded. The rest are just ignored. If not already included, I suggest that the Citizen’s lawsuit against the Navy incorporate into this sad matrix the history of A-6 and F-14 takeoff and landing crashes over the years.
But relocation poses a fiscal and resource challenge. In the past when (mis)use of a training site placed a local community in peril, the DoD saw to it that the offending Service terminated that operation and resumed training at another location. The cost was subsidized through the use of TOY funds for aircrews and field controllers. The more flexible fuel allocations absorbed the costs of the round trip.
The acquisition of a substitute runway is more difficult because new construction is ruled out by present fiscal constraints. But there are millions of acres of restricted areas in the western deserts owned by the DoD. I offer no new proposal in considering that there may still be abandoned airstrips or WWII bomber training sites just waiting to be dusted off; or considering joint use of a sister unit’s site for the mid-phase training. In context, these costs are minimal because the gain is always optimal… including positive PR at a time when needed.
On the deck of my home 15 miles from the OLF, I am subject to the menacing rumble that owns the night, and I lament the witless effort to burden that peaceful community with the roar of war. But then I go inside, slide the door shut and lock it. Silence!
Now that is the “sound of freedom.”
Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of 1776 enshrined the “unalienable” rights of its citizens to live in peace, prosperity and to pursue “safety and happiness.”
Anywhere but Coupeville?
Another letter to the editor from the Whidbey Market Place by permission
Letters to the Editor