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"More jet noise here, less there"

"With today's closure of one of the main runways at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, base officials say some residents might hear a little more jet noise than usual. On the other hand, some will probably hear less. From now until May 12, the east-west oriented runway at Ault Field - Runway 7/25 - will be closed for repairs of its concrete surface. That means NAS Whidbey's EA-6B Prolwer and P-3 squadrons will use the other runway, north-south oriented Runway13/31, for all of their take-offs and landings.With the east-west runway scheduled to be closed until May 12, the skies over Clover Valley and Dugualla Bay should be quieter than normal, said Rich Melaas, community planning liaison officer for the base.Consequently, people living in the 13/31 (north-south) traffic patterns, may experience more noise than normal, Melaas said.But there are other variables to consider, Melaas said, like wind direction and operational requirements.Traditionally, the prevailing winds over Whidbey blow north or south in the winter and out of the west in the summer. The wind shift usually takes place in late April or early May. Since pilots like to take off and land into the wind, a wind shift can determine flight pattern.The other determining factor is operational tempo, Melaas said.As Prowler squadrons get ready to go out and join an aircraft carrier, they ramp up their training for landing on carrier decks. The training is called field carrier landing practice, and generally takes place at the base's outlying field in Coupeville.NAS Whidbey can also use one of its Ault Field runways for field carrier landing practice when both runways are open.But with all air traffic into and out the base limited to one runway, Coupeville's outlying field will get more use for the duration of the repairs.Coupeville's outlying field has been relatively quiet for the last six weeks because it has been closed for resurfacing. As for operational tempos, Cmdr. Herb Arnold, chief of staff for NAS Whidbey's electronic attack wing, said they are pretty much normal for this time of year, with roughly four squadrons training to depart for carrier operations between now and May 12.With work to Ault Field's east-west runway slated to be completed within the next five weeks, it means planes will be taking off, conducting field carrier landing practice, and landing, earlier, according to Melaas. Which could be good news to residents surrounding Coupeville's outlying field.The other thing about doing the repairs now is that it still gets dark early enough to complete the night operations at a reasonable time, Melaas said."

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