Letters to the Editor

Growler noise dangerous to public

I appreciated Nathan Whalen’s front page article in the Sept. 12 edition of the Whidbey News-Times on the subject of the Navy jets over Coupeville.

Your readers might be interested in knowing a few more details than the article presented, namely that the Navy officials who developed the Boeing-made jet (F/A-18E/F Super Hornet) and the similar EA-18G (the Growler) in the 1990s failed to initially consider ways to reduce the jet’s deafening noise level, putting the sailors at risk for hearing damage. (Navy Times, March 9, 2009: Audit: Super Hornet a noise risk for sailors.)

This article goes on to say: “Super Hornets are dangerously loud. Noise levels are near 150 decibels, a sound blast far beyond the hazard level of 84 decibels for civilian jobs.”

I would suggest that the comment by Mayor Conard regarding touchdowns (“many took place at night during a heat wave when many residents’ windows were open”) is an oversimplification by the Navy of the noise level experienced by the residents of Central Whidbey.

The reality is that the Navy is fully aware of the dangerously loud noise levels from the Growler aircraft. Citizens living near NAS Key West at Boca Chica, Fla., and Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach and Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field in Chesapeake have filed Class Action lawsuits regarding aircraft noise.

On March 18, 2009, the Monroe, Fla., board of county commissioners passed a resolution directing the command at NAS Key West at Boca Chica to “immediately cease and desist” the flying of FA-18 generation aircraft until initial noise studies can be done to determine the actual noise level and the harm it is inflicting on residents who live near Boca Chica Field.

We urge the Island County Board of Commissioners to follow a similar course of action to protect the citizens of Island County from permanent hearing loss.

Peggy and Gordon Burton


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