Touch-and-go should just go
September 18, 2012 · Updated 3:09 PM
Outlying Field in Coupeville is a totally inappropriate location to conduct jet touch-and-go landings because it is situated in the midst of a suburban area. A decision long overdue should have terminated this operation and located it elsewhere.
The expectation to feel safe and secure in one’s home is not served by embracing such juvenile gibberish as “sound of freedom” while the constant shriek and roar of low-flying jets rattles your windows and destroys quality of life. Freedom involves the ability to voice grievances, the necessity of media to inform the public, and the obligation of government to ensure citizens’ “right to the pursuit of happiness.”
I witnessed the terrifying dislocations of life in that zone when I visited with friends at a home underlying a segment of the touch-and-go traffic pattern. Children and pets cannot remain outdoors for fear of being crazed by the sound levels beyond the threshold of tolerance. Conversation indoors is a tableau of incoherence.
Over the years, we have witnessed the often surprising willingness of the military and FAA to accommodate the public from whom they draw legitimacy and support. In order to lower hazardous noise levels, they have required the use of quieter engines, changed flight patterns, altitudes and hours of operation. But when necessary, they have terminated and relocated offending operations.
During an overseas tour, I was directed to fly my minions to a more remote location to practice our military arts because our training operations had caused off-site damage and a civilian death. This was smart, compassionate and cost conscious. The new location was a prepared facility on a U.S. government site.
About 15 years ago I was looking for an ideal place in Cascadia to spend our advancing years. Coupeville was high on the list. But when my dutiful real estate agent showed me a map of the area with the mandatory noise hazard overlays, I immediately excluded certain areas but wondered: What of the people who live under that pall now? When they came, did they know? When did they find out? Why are they still there now?
They may be prisoners of progress. As the buzzy WWII recips were replaced in the fleet air arm by single, then twin-engine turbines, noise levels unacceptable for residential habitation trapped many families in their legacy homes. Frogs endure in water being heated to the boil, until they boil. Unlike frogs, people cry out when limits of tolerance are reached.
Only an enlightened intervention will end this debacle. Although the Defense Department owns millions of acres of desert land with airfields and restricted airspace within the totality of our western states, do not be surprised if Coupeville’s contagion of noise is relocated to Ault Field!
Not very enlightened has been some of the commentary responding to the gentle remonstrance of the Coupeville sufferer. The hideous imprecations of the ignorant and (threat of?) vigilante patrols at her home are matters that must be addressed by appropriate authorities, military and civilian.
Another published commentary reflects the patriotic resignation of a family whose home is under or near one of the access corridors of Ault Field. They bravely endure and “get on with life.” But I would assure them that while their exposure to departure and arrival noise levels is a bloody nuisance, exposure under the OLF pattern is a world apart. Now if one has foreknowledge of noise hazards and relocates to that environment, little remediation is available unless safety matters are also an issue.
But who can gainsay the regal, reassuring thrum of P-3s as they go about business in the local area? As for the OLF, give model enthusiasts a piece of it, then tear up the rest and plant lavender.
Cyril L. Greig