Part 1 Why we want the Navy find a new OLF site to train young pilots in safer conditions


The Outlying Field (OLF) in Coupeville was built in 1943 as an auxiliary field and covers 677 acres. Island County’s population was 6,098 in 1940.

OLF, Coupeville is 5400’ long x 200’ wide. By contrast, Alt Field’s 2 runways are 8,000’ long. OLF now nearly touches State Route 20, the main north/south road, and is located 3 miles SE of Coupeville, WA. Full stop landings are not authorized unless there is an emergency, as this field is shorter than the 6,000’ minimum standard designated for post WWII Naval aircraft.

OLF was lightly used for about 70 years. The Introduction of the EA-6B Prowlers and their use of OLF for Carrier Landing Training in the 1980’s caused concern in Central Whidbey and WISE, a local community group, was formed to address noise and safety issues at OLF – disbanding in the late 1980’s. A new group, Citizens of the Reserve, formed in late 2012 to address the same issues and to work for the closure and re-location of OLF.

The town of Coupeville, just 3 miles NW of OLF, is the County seat, housing administrative and government offices. The new federally funded Whidbey Island Transit Complex is being built directly north of The OLF (seen at the top of this photo) in a crash zone. The population of Island County is now 78,500 and persons per square mile in this County are 377 compared to the rest of Washington’s 101 per square mile. Also, the Island’s major hospital, a primary school, middle school and high school totaling about 800 children are located within the OLF over flight zone.

In 2008, the EA-18G Growler arrived on Whidbey. There are now 8 active duty squadrons of EA-18G Growlers at NASWI. Although the Growlers were built to replace the EA-6B Prowlers, there are still 7 active duty Prowler squadrons at NASWI. The transition from EA-6B Prowlers to EA-18 G Growlers will continue until completed because of a 2005 Navy Environmental Assessment (EA). Both the EA-6B Prowlers and EA-18G Growlers utilize OLF-Coupeville for ‘Touch & Go’ (T&G’s) trainings.

Local residents noticed increased use of OLF during the summers of 2011 & 2012 — as the number of T & G operations at OLF rose to over 13,300, increasing sharply from 3,200 in 2010. This is a 314% increase in flight activity in Central Whidbey and a significant increase in the area and level of noise exposure.

The Navy’s 2005 EA that called for the transition from Prowlers to Growlers stunned the Coupeville community in the wake of increased flights by louder aircraft. Few knew in 2005 what an EA18G Growler was — or the impact it would have on people, place and property.


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