Letters: Sonic booms and rumbles

Letter writer explains what loud noises are all about

Activist Helene Harrison seems confused about the noise she calls “sonic booms”, and its source, in your January 14, 2015 issue.

A sonic boom is a short pressure wave off of an aircraft travelling faster than the speed of sound. It is very unlikely that anyone is flying that fast past Sooke, as military people try to avoid that near populations and it is fuel inefficient. Has she considered the noise may be blasting for construction?

The “rumbles” that some people well to the east of her report hearing are probably aircraft training on Whidbey Island, likely using afterburner for takeoff and go-around. It is more than a short sound due to takeoff time and more than one aircraft using the runway in sequence. I doubt very much that she hears that noise at her distant location very often. Has she tried to correlate what she hears with when the US Navy is training? I gather they will say when they did, otherwise the newspaper serving Port Townsend probably knows.

And – sigh – Harrison failed to grasp my explanation a few weeks ago of what the “electromagnetic” training  behind Forks and down the outer coast is – radar trucks hiding in the forest to be detected by aircraft. Calling the training “war games” is a bit much, that’s done over deserts to have clear airspace and few people hearing the noise. Instead she points to an author who fails to grasp that radio waves are not nuclear radiation, doesn’t understand that strength declines rapidly with distance, fails to recognize that moving training to the Olympic peninsula reduces the carbon dioxide emissions he is so concerned about, mis-represents US Navy statements, and uses misleading headlines.

I challenge Harrison to tell us the difference between those test devices and radars that are at airports for flight control and elsewhere for shipping control and weather mapping.

The US Navy is of course a partner with Canada in defending our peaceful and prosperous way of life. I support that.

Keith Sketchley