Opinion

EDITORIAL: Late jet noise to lessen soon

Good news for all you people concerned about noise from low-flying Navy jets late at night: summer solstice, June 21, is less than two weeks away, meaning that as of June 22 the days will start getting shorter.

With shorter days will come earlier endings to flight practice. When the sun sets after 9 p.m., Navy pilots can’t begin their night flight practice until late. As a result, low-flying planes have been reported rattling windows in the Oak Harbor and Coupeville areas as late as 2 a.m.

People have expressed concern about the noise, but no one begrudges the pilots their practice time. Many have just returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom where the Whidbey squadrons compiled an amazing flight safety record while protecting U.S. forces. Thousands of sorties were made from aircraft carriers without mishap, thanks in part to the practice they got back home on Whidbey, from both Ault Field in Oak Harbor and Outlying Field near Coupeville. The aircrews’ safety is far more important thanany passing noise concerns.

Part of the public’s concern over noise is the product of civilian ignorance. Not knowing when the flights will begin and when they will end can be unnerving. In the past, the Navy published flight schedules in this newspaper. That openness ended with the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks. Homeowners under the flight paths now must be satisfied knowing that the practices will end several hours after they begin.

But the hard part for this year is nearly over. Beginning June 22, the flights will end earlier each day. By fall, even people who go to bed early can rest in peace all night long.

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