Coalition plans second Growler event Thursday

A coalition is holding another public meeting on its “No New Jets, No New Flights” campaign in Coupeville Thursday.

In October, more than 700 people attended Sound Defense Alliance’s three simultaneous events in protest of the Navy’s plans to expand the number of EA-18G Growler aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and to increase the number of training flights at Outlying Field Coupeville by nearly 370 percent.

This time, the group said it is holding a “post-election action fair” at the Coupeville High School commons from 5:45 to 7 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.

“Community experts” will be available to update the public on the Growler jet expansion status, the “No New Jets” campaign and actions people can take to get involved in issue, the group reported.

The event will include “action stations” where people can watch a screening of the film “Plane Truths,” write postcards to elected officials or pen letters to the editor.

“We’re combining information and action into a community event meant to be informative, fun and engaging,“ said Valerie Reuther, one of the event coordinators.

The Secretary of the Navy’s decision on force structure and the distribution of aircraft carrier landing practice — between OLF Coupeville and the Ault Field base in Oak Harbor — is expected to be released at the end of this month, Navy officials said.

The final Environmental Statement, or EIS, on the increase of Growlers at the base was released at the end of September. The Secretary of the Navy or his designee can make a final decision no earlier than 30 days after the release of the EIS.

While some Central Whidbey residents don’t appreciate the noise of the Growlers, Navy officials have argued that OLF Coupeville provides invaluable and realistic opportunities for pilots to practice landings.

Also, Navy officials said the Ault Field base doesn’t have the capacity for a significant increase in training flights because of traffic from other aircraft.

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