Navy, Central Whidbey officials continue noise concern dialogue

PRESS RELEASE: Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. – Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and elected officials from the local area held another meeting on April 11 to discuss Navy flight operations associated with the Navy's Outlying Field (OLF) Coupeville.

The meeting was the first for Capt. Mike Nortier, NAS Whidbey Island's Commanding Officer, and is a continuation of the ongoing dialogue between base officials and Coupeville community leaders regarding base efforts to improve community understanding and awareness of flight operations at OLF Coupeville.

Following the initial meeting held in December, the base began publicizing training schedules at OLF. District 1 Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said the publication of weekly flight operations was a positive development.

"People want improved communications about flight operations and this was a step in the right direction," she said.

Nortier, who has been in command at the air station for less than two months, wants to continue the dialogue his predecessor started.

"The process to improve communications with the Coupeville community started under Capt. Jay Johnston is something we remain committed to continuing," Nortier said.

During a meeting preceding the April 11 discussion, one of the issues discussed between base and Coupeville area officials was the possibility of identifying times over the summer when people could schedule special events around flight activities.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said the ability to plan events was important to local residents.

"Knowing when people could plan summer events well ahead of time is important to people in the local area," Conard said.

NAS Whidbey Island officials have identified several key dates when there are no scheduled Fleet Carrier Landing Practice operations at OLF Coupeville this coming summer. Weekends over the summer typically do not have scheduled flight operations.

Additionally, the OLF field will not have flight carrier land practice from July 4-14 and August 23-25 when the Whidbey Island Radio Control Society will conduct their annual Jets Over Whidbey event.

"We will do everything we can to ensure there are no flight operations at OLF during those dates," said Nortier. "However, we also want people to understand that could change based on unforeseen developments such as an international crisis. If that happens, we will do everything we can to let people know what's happening ahead of time."

A key aspect pertaining to changes in flight schedules is how to let the public know.

"We have some constraints on timeliness due to the newspaper's deadline," Nortier said. "When a change does occur, we send out another release that gets posted on the Whidbey News Times website and our NAS Whidbey Island Facebook page. That's where people can find the most up-to-date information."

Future topics for discussion will include additional aspects of OLF operations. NASWI and its use of OLF Coupeville originated during World War II and the air field has continued to support evolving national defense requirements.

The most important missions related to OLF Coupeville continue to support the training of Navy pilots as they learn to simulate carrier landings, both day and night, prior to landing on aircraft carriers at sea.

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