Navy Growlers 'too loud' on Whidbey Island

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 28 at 8:00 PM

It's the solitude that lured Michael Monson and his wife Judy to Coupeville from bustling Seattle. 

When they moved there nine years ago, they knew the birds in their backyard would share the skies with noisy jets from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station up the road, but they never dreamed of the extent to which they’d have to go for a little peace and quiet.

“My wife and I are both forced to wear ear muffs inside our house,” said Monson, holding a pair of construction grade ear protectors. 

At one point recently, Monson used a decibel meter in his house to measure the noise level of Navy jets flying above.  The level registered 89 decibels. That’s about the same as a truck rumbling through his living room -- at 9:00 p.m. at night.

Monson has taken other reading around town with levels hitting up to 112 decibels.

“That’s damaging, especially to kids,” he said.

The jets train year round at a nearby airfield about 15 miles south of the Navy’s main base in Oak Harbor. They train three hours per day, sometimes well past midnight. Neighbors say the Navy's own numbers show nearly four times as many flights now, almost 10,000 per year, than in 2005. Increasingly the planes are EA-18 Growlers which fly lower than their predecessor the Prowler. Hundreds from the community have complained . Many want the air field closed and all operations moved to Oak Harbor. 

“If we had known in 2003 that they we're gonna bring these monsters in, would be have moved here? Absolutely not,” said Monson.

When new homeowners buy a house in Coupeville, they sign a document stating they understand it's going to be noisy. Those who support the air field say - deal with it.

“They have a right to complain,” said 20-year Navy veteran Larrie Ford. “But these guys out here flying give them that right.”

On Friday, Ford said the aircraft carrier pilots have to train somewhere.

“There's no other place in the state they can do that. This is configured for the tailhook community,” Ford said. “People have suggested they move it to Eastern Washington, but those folks will complain, too. This is the small price we pay for our freedoms.”

Meantime, the Monsons plan to continue their protests, promising the Navy will have no peace until they get some of their own.
 

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