EA-18G EIS Project Manager (Code EV21/SS),
Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic,
6506 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23508
January 24th 2014
From: name removed due to fear of harassment
Coupeville resident, RAF widow, Air Force wife (to retired Vietnam Lieutenant Colonel).
To whom it may concern, this letter is in regard to the increase in jet flights and jet noise on Whidbey Island.
It distresses me to inform you that as a Whidbey Island resident, that the very entities that I have upheld as a sacred, our United States military, is behaving like an invading enemy. This “conqueror” at NAS Whidbey Navel Base, has “taken over from the land and from the air”, communities for whom it apparently has no regard, no compassion, and no sense of responsibility. Taking from, and using for its own end with noise and environmental pollution, land, beaches, water ways, oceans, skies, farms, and life that exists within an area that is a “National Treasure”, that does not belong solely to them, and will ultimately change forever the very things that has been extraordinary, beautiful, and valued by a “resident” and not “transient population”.
It is my duty to inform you that NAS Whidbey is a very bad neighbor
I regret to inform you that the press on the island would seem to many to have acted very irresponsibly and published letters and articles that have fed the flames that has further encouraged rifts between individuals, communities and businesses that will possibly never be repaired or forgotten. A certain element of its supporters have behaved reactively and viciously towards the victims of noise, and related issues. There is a reliable report of threatened rape, and other violence towards property and people, which has caused fear and is intimidating to anyone person who would uphold “freedom of speech”.
Please find below three important letters, one from the Sierra Club, from the National Parks Conservation Association, and from Whidbey Environmental Action Network, in case you need to reread them. I have added comments.
Letter One. Partial.
Source, Rebecca J. Wolfe, Chair, Snohomish Group (Washington State Chapter). Sierra Club
NOISE: JGL Acoustics Inc. found that maximum sound levels from Growler Jets using the OLF were “well above the levels requiring hearing protection and are high enough to potentially result in permanent hearing loss.” These communities have chosen Whidbey for its bucolic, peaceful, environmentally conscious nature, many of them leading and enjoying an outdoor life for recreation or business. All these people, including animals, farm workers; anyone in the range of harmful sound is endangered
HEALTH: Numerous peer-reviewed studies document that aircraft noise can permanently damage hearing, raise blood pressure, and harm livestock and wildlife, and children have greater susceptibility to harm. Studies include those by: the World Health Organization, the US Department of Transportation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. One of our dear friends is battling Crone’s disease, and has sadly made the decision to give up his home of forty years so that his final time on this earth will not be an agony of noise. This will be a huge financial and emotional loss. To those who would threaten to harm the victims of sound, I wish you could meet my friend and feel proud of your ignorance in supporting what he has had to endure. He never as you put it “whined”, and I would imagine you could now buy his home with its lovely view, as it will be a steal.
SAFETY: Flights over populated areas pose potential safety problems. Pilots and residents are at risk when the Navy uses this short, outdated World War II era OLF. There have been disturbing reliable reports of pilots hot-dogging, and flying low over Coupeville and the hospital and other areas, rattling windows, and in some homes shattering glass. I regretfully question the ability of the navy to control the occasional adverse reported flight pattern and the observed height the plans fly.
There have been reliable reports of EA-18G’s flying about 500 feet at Fort Casey Spit above the water, and 300 feet above the house in Admirals Cove.
It is impossible to truly gauge the height without a range finder, but the Growlers we observed were flying low, and the noise was deafening.
To many uneducated individuals who do not understand the decibel harm they are being exposed to, as they arrive or depart on the Coupeville Port Townsend ferry, this might seem to be an exciting display. Sadly, it is not the “sound of Freedom”, as so freely bantered, it is life-changing damage to ears. To the resident population it must be excruciating.
I wonder how the original artillery gunners at Fort Casey fared or how their hearing needs were managed?
We are experiencing a modern day example of the lack of care by the military, in this case the civilian population on Whidbey that is collateral damage.
Please use actual sound levels during FCLP practice instead of twenty-four hour averages. By using this method it gives a false impression of the damage the noise does, and is a dishonest evaluation.
The proximity of the OLF runway as it parallels Route 20 at about 500 feet distance at its closest point is disturbing on all levels.
ENVIRONMENT: The OLF sits next to Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, a 24,000-acre National Park of environmental, cultural, and historical significance and an important wildlife and migratory bird habitat, supporting recreational/tourist use and appreciation. This will ultimately affect tourism. Who would want to stay, camp, and spend a day bombarded with ear splitting noise when on vacation?
REAL ESTATE VALUES: With the recent publicity regarding Island real estate, concerning jet noise, and honest and full disclosure, it would seem there will obviously follow a downward spiral of the value of homes and property that are subject to noise, including Oak Harbor
ALTERNATIVES TO OLF: From a friend:
Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) is essential flight training for all Naval aviators who land aircraft on carriers. However, the Coupeville OLF is not essential for training NAS Whidbey aircrews.
Ault Field and NAF El Centro were used during the moratorium at OLF Coupeville with no degradation of Naval capabilities. Ault field is lightly used during many days of the year and more creative scheduling of training could accommodate more FCLP training days. During the hours of darkness Ault field is almost totally inactive. The night flying at OLF Coupeville could be conducted at Ault Field with no adverse impact on the flying schedule.
The Navy does practically no flying at NAS Whidbey on weekends, Fridays before holidays, or the entire week before and after Christmas. These days could be added into the flying schedule to minimize or even eliminate the need for OLF Coupeville.
NAS Whidbey squadrons already deploy to NAS Lemoore (CA) and NAS Fallon (NV) to train on the ranges there. NAS Lemoore has the capability to conduct FCLP as is has parallel runways, arresting gear, and is at only 235’ elevation. FCLP training has been conducted there in the past. Fallon doesn’t meet stated elevation requirements for FCLP, however both Lemoore and El Centro are just short hops away.
NAF El Centro is available and ready now. It is located in a remote desert area near the Mexican border. El Centro is one of the bases identified by the Navy for a potential home base for the F-35. However, given the slow funding and delivery of this aircraft it may be years before an entire base is needed to support them.
In addition, there are numerous other airfields in California that are lightly used and could be candidates for FCLP training. Beale AFB, North of Sacramento, Mather AFB, east of Sacramento, March Field, Near Riverside, Crows Landing NASA airfield approximately 35 nautical miles East of Oakland, etc.
The Navy has demonstrated that is willing to conduct FCLP training at non-Navy facilities. The Navy has an agreement with NASA to conduct FCLP training at Wallops Island airfield. They have also signed an agreement to conduct FCLP training at Greensville Municipal Airport. Both airfields are in Virginia. These FCLP locations however are turboprop training, not jets.
The alternatives to OLF Coupeville are many and varied. El Centro is available now with no development cost. Lemoore could be ready with transfer of the portable landing light system from Coupeville and painting the runway. Other options would probably be more expensive; however, even building a parallel runway at Ault Field is within rounding error of the Navy’s 2014 budget of $155.8 Billion, and certainly less than the cost of one F-35 (estimated 2013 cost $263 million).
Finally, as the granddaughter of a British National cruelly tortured in Bridge House for his war efforts to support Britain, Shanghai; daughter of a Shanghai Fusilier (a Scottish Regiment), who died from the privations of war; niece to an Uncle whose plane was shot down over Arnhem; daughter-in-law to a Group Captain who spent seven years away from home training pilots in Africa; widow of a pilot who was exposed to radiation on Christmas Island, mother to a child who lost her father in her teens possibly due to nuclear fallout; and now wife to a retired Lieutenant Colonel veteran of the Vietnam war, who has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, please understand that I now exercise my right to freedom of speech, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, just as each man that we lost, and who we stood by did.
God bless and help our troops, and the United Stated Of America.