Letters to the Editor

Outlying Field: Island needs air service

Whenever I drive south past the Navy OLF (Outlying field) south of Coupeville, I cannot keep from thinking “what a waste of assets, not having joint usage of the airfield by a commuter airline.”

The commuter could be authorized to use the field when the Navy is not. And that appears to me to be about 90 percent of the time. When the airport is being used by the Navy, the commuter could simply divert to Skagit County Regional Airport at Bayview. In that case, the airline could provide ground transportation from Bayview to Whidbey Island. Other civil air traffic would be prohibited at Coupeville. This would be a much better arrangement than traveling with I-5 madness.

I feel that I am qualified to speak on this subject, having been a financial controller and pilot with Harbor Airlines, a naval aviator and a certified public accountant.

Both airports have all the facilities for safe operations. The commuter would have to build a small terminal building at Coupeville. I do not see any security problems at either airport. At my last observation there was no security fence or patrol at Coupeville.

The missing ingredients are equipment, financing and qualified management. The latter two should be available here on Whidbey Island. I feel that the same type of individuals that made the original Harbor Airlines successful, namely retired naval aviators who live to fly, could make it successful again.

Perhaps the commuter could us eWes Lupien Airfield for maintenance. Of course they would need expert legal and financial advice.

As for equipment, I recommend the DeHavilland Canada Twin Otter DHC-6-300. Two pilots and 20 passengers. These are rugged, 180 know, fixed landing gear, high wind with great visibility for passengers, and two turbo jetprop engines. About one million dollars per aircraft. Two would be needed.

This is the same aircraft that is used for scenic flights over the Grand Canyon. They are not being built any longer, but there should be some good ones out there on the used market.

The principal problem could be over expansion: Just don’t do it.

Air service is needed here on Whidbey Island, not Vancouver, B.C. or the San Juan Islands.

Bev Staser

Oak Harbor

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