It never ends with the “not in my back yard” attitude of our increasingly removed from the military culture and it is impacting the readiness of our aircrews. The only people I would really listen to when it comes to jet noise complaints around military installations are those who owned property in the affected area before the aircraft were operating in that area, although this is almost never the case as the majority of them are dead by now. If you do not like the sound of EA-6B Prowlers doing touch and goes at 10pm in your neighborhood than you should have never moved to that neighborhood! Same with people who move right next to an actual air base and then make life hell for the military public affairs and command folks by constantly complaining about the noise and threatening to take action. The military folks are just trying to do their job, which is sort of important one, yet every loon and obsessive compulsive gets their fair turn to rile up the community, often times over and over again.
Coupeville Naval Outlying Landing Field on Whidbey Island is under new fire. This installation is austere and out in the country, trust me as I been there many times. It has been in continuous use for the better part of a century and has seen throngs of Intruders, Prowlers and Whales throughout the years. Now that the Growlers are in service it has given people a new reason to make a case once again for closing the field. I really don’t think a Super Hornet is louder than banshee sounding J-52 tubojet packing EA-6B Prowler, even in blower. But even if it is a bit louder, who cares? It’s still just the same loud jet noise that has filled the night sky of secluded Whidbey Island for decades. The sad thing is the DoD does accommodate these people’s complaints time and time again, even limiting hours of operation or having to invest in sound pollution studies and even “noise officers.” Now expensive ‘environmental impact studies’ are required just to move a new type of jet to a base already full of jets, with much of it focused on the noise impact of that new jet on the surrounding community. Often times town hall meetings are held about these issues where it seems the services continue to give up a little more operational control year after year in an attempt to satisfy a fairly small group of citizens who will only be pleased if the jets disappear in full from the the skies one day. If this continues, just how far will the services have to run from their own countrymen in order to stay qualified to do their job?
If you do not like the sound of fighter jets then do not live right next to a place where they operate, it is as simple as that, and for goodness sake try to understand that pilots conducting night carrier qualification training is not a trivial training evolution, it is an absolute life or death necessity. Remember complainers that the folks in those loud airplanes are risking their lives to protect your ability to call and bitch at them whenever you please, so deal with it or leave.
Maybe the military should fight the dreaded “not in my back yard” (NIMBY) attitude with its own NIMBY attack and just move to purchase the land within two miles around the field under eminent domain and claim that if they don’t do so that they will have to relocate far away which will cost millions in construction costs, added jet fuel and air-frame hour time. In other words complain about the noise the complainers are making and rectify the situation by creating a larger buffer around the field itself. Or even a simpler solution to all the whiners problems: Buy earplugs.
Often times these battles end up with the services having to identify alternative sites to move their training, but one has to wonder just how long a hypothetical new field will last before people encroach in around it once again, or folks with nothing better to with their time and living within hearing distance begin to also complain about the noise as well? Just how far out will our own guardians have to run from those they are tasked with protecting just to get the training they absolutely require in order to complete their mission safely and reliably?
Prowler conducting FCLP:
Here is an awesome video of A-6 Intruders doing low level formation work through the mountains in Washington from back in the day. Does it relate directly to this article, not exactly but it does showcase the amazing and dangerous things our military aviators do while at the same time getting complained about by residents who have had their perfect quiet disturbed by their training: