NIMBYism and National Defense

Along the lines of the silliness we’re seeing surrounding Jade Helm in Texas and  other places, we’re also see an almost reflexive antagonism to any military training anywhere.

A couple cases from my own roots in the Pacific Northwest. First, just outside NAS Whidbey Island is a small airstrip known as OLF Coupeville. This “Out Lying Field” is used to practice carrier approaches without unduly tying up the traffic pattern around the main air station. Most Naval Air Stations have one or two.

OLF Coupe

People that buy property in the area have to sign an acknowledgement that they are, in fact, aware that jets will be flying overhead.  And the Navy publishes a schedule of operations well in advance, so people can plan accordingly.  The Navy takes other steps to minimize the disruption loud low flying jets cause.

Of course, that’s not enough for some people. A small group of agitators have made it their goal to ban the Navy from flying from OLF through the federal courts. This, field the Navy has been using since 1943, and been using with much louder jets since 1962.

Similarly, when the Navy announced plans to operate mobile Electronic Warfare simulators on the Olympic Peninsula, people were instantly up in arms about the “radiation” involved. Of course, the Navy isn’t going to be producing deadly ionizing nuclear radiation. They’ll be using radio frequency energy. And still people objected to that, in spite of being blithely unaware of the recently installed weather radar in the same area that has a peak output orders of magnitude greater than the planned mobile emitters.

And currently, the US Army at Joint Base Lewis McChord is seeking input from the public on establishing training areas on public land for its helicopter crews.

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Have you ever seen a field after a helicopter has landed on it? You cannot tell that a helicopter has landed on it. Even in a worst case scenario, should a helicopter crash, the Army goes to great effort to ensure that no damage is done to the environment. Seriously, you’ve never seen a more environmentally conscious organization than the Army.

But of course, as MushDogs points out, the urge of NIMBYism is reflexive.

Mind you, these same people don’t turn away a military Search and Rescue helicopter when it comes to hoist them out of the mountains. They just don’t want them to train to operate in the mountains. Note, this isn’t private property we’re discussing here. This is land already owned by the federal government, and airspace that isn’t restricted.

There was a time not very long ago when people might not be very happy about operations like this, but understood it was simply a part of life. Today, however, even the most modest imposition upon them is cause for uproar.

9 thoughts on “NIMBYism and National Defense”

  1. Too many granola eating, patchouli wearing stinky peacenik hippies around here. Wish they’d move back to Seattle so when the Big One hits the earth will open up and swallow them and everything west of I-5 whole.
    Did I say that out loud?

  2. You would be amazed at how many complaints we get here at Hohenfels from the many villages adjacent to the box. Primarily about helicopters, but about other things as well, such as the UK’s incredibly loud simulators. Next month, we are doing airborne operations that will entail 42 air-landings on the newly renovated STOL strip by C130.

  3. New Mexico was eaten up with NIMBYism when I was a schoolhouse instructor at Kirtland AFB. The hippies in Albuquerque complained about the helicopters. So did the ranchers in the White Sands Missile Range. So did all the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and every other tribe between Texas and Arizona. Everyone complained about us, it was ridiculous. Like the Man said, if a helicopter lands out in the middle of the NM desert, can you tell it was even there 5 minutes after it leaves? Nope. As for the city of ABQ, we flew out of the local airport, so you had way more noise and air pollution in the city from Southwest and United Airlines than from the USAF.

    And yes, we did our share of search and rescue missions (I remember a couple of snowboarders, some snowmobilers, a crashed German F-4 and a bunch of stranded rock-climbers that got rescued, just between 2000 and 2004). We even helped fight forest fires when we could fit it in with the training mission. But nobody remembered any of that stuff, it was just wall-to-wall whining about us flying anywhere outside the perimeter fence at Kirtland. Some of it died down (a little) after 9/11, but it quickly returned within a year or two. I can only imagine what it’s like now….

  4. The sound of fast jets sends me running for my camera but not nearly as quickly as the sound of Merlins. We get the odd chopper heading off to an exercise or flying cover during a dignitary’s visit but the majority rotor traffic is the air ambulance – and nobody is bitching about that.

  5. Move next to a military airstrip and then start complaining about noise? I hope the Growlers DO zap them with radiation.

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