Hello fellow Skagit County resident - (and ATS)!!
I have been snooping around this site for quite a while, but never joined up until I saw the words "Skagit County" in your post title!
post, and sound recording - and more importantly your great attitude about trying to figure out what is causing it.
I will give you my first star and flag!
I was born and raised here ( Burlington / Sedro Woolley - Skagit County ) - and have heard this very familiar sound since childhood (1970's). In
fact this sound was very comforting for me as a child (after my dad explained what it was), and even now as an adult it reminds me of great
memories...snuggling up in my warm bed imagining I was sitting in the pilot seat pushing the thrust levers to "full military"!!
Your conclusion about jet engine "testing" at NAS Whidbey causing this sound "anomaly" are correct in my opinion and experiences.
Next time you hear the noise - quickly call NAS Whidbey (360) 257-3331 and just ask them if they are doing any engine testing. I have done this a few
times out of pure curiosity (even though I had been told for years it was testing /maintenance). Each time I have done it...they were testing.
If you take a close look at a topographical map of the area between NAS Whidbey and the Burlington /Sedro Woolley area, you will notice a nearly
"straight line" of "flat" geograpy between the two points. I believe this creates a "valley" that channels sound from Whidbey to Skagit County.
As previously noted low frequency sounds easily travel long distances - and the older EA6 "Prowlers" were quite loud and low, and now the EA-18
"Growlers" have an even louder, lower frequency engine sound.
More 'Growlers', more noise; Whidbey NAS subject to full-blown environmental review
NAS Whidbey spokesman Mike Welding acknowledges that the EA-18s have a different sound than the EA-6 Predators. He doesn’t think the decibel level
is higher, but admits the more powerful EA-18 engines have a “lower frequency” that may be more noticeable and that the more powerful engines and
the shock wave from the planes may rattle windows more than previously. People on Whidbey Island have complained of broken glass after EA-18s have
roared over their homes.
Back to my childhood for a moment: when I first heard these noises at night, they frightened me. My dad told me it was the Navy testing their jet
engines. The sound still scared me, so he took me to a NAS Whidbey air show so I could see the "scary noise makers" close and personal. I even got
to sit in one!
Needless to say I have been a big fan of Naval Aviation ever since!
I have not been to NAS Whidbey in a long time, but the used to have a large sign at the base entrance that said "Pardon our noise, it is the sound of
Well enough of my reminiscing, here is my summary:
1. A geographical "valley" exists between NAS Whidbey and most of Skagit County. I believe this channels and possibly amplifies the jet engine
static testing, and "run ups" that take place at the naval air station.
2. Common weather conditions between the navy base and Skagit County (dense over cast clouds) can also help confine, channel and amplify the sound
through the "valley" between the two locations.
3. The older "Prowlers" were damned loud aircraft, and believe me, the newer "Growlers" replacing them are indeed louder, and also "lower" in
I could be wrong though...there are many reports of mystery sounds, and they can't all be jet engine testing /maintenance. Please call the base next
time you hear the noise to see if you can confirm my theory!
NAS Whidbey Island (360) 257-3331
Thanks again for the great post - and I will be waiting for another recording!