We received a lot of feedback after my story on increased air traffic over Bainbridge ran earlier this month.
I’ve reached out to FAA and King County International Airport officials to get a more complete picture of air traffic in the area, and I’ll post whatever information they provide. In the meantime, I’ll share some of the additional reader input and flight track graphics we’ve received.
Comments posted in response to the story online were mostly of the “those islanders always find something to complain about” variety, but I also heard from a number of Bainbridge and North Kitsap residents who had concerns and observations regarding airplane noise. Here’s a sampling:
“In the twelve years we have lived here, this past summer is the first time we have been bothered by the noise. As I noted, this year the frequency of the flights has increased greatly and the planes are flying at lower altitudes than in previous years.” – Kathy, south Kingston
“My concern is these flights are too low for one thing. At night the strobe lights up my back yard on approach as I’m on a hill and I know the plane is closer than 2,000 ft at my house off Eagle Harbour. I believe our senator and US Congress reps should be involved but it’s King County Airport where the flights are coming in over my area.” – Jim, Bainbridge Island
“When I am outside, my impression is the noisy jet aircraft are significantly below two thousand feet altitude (hence noisy), flying north, are in level flight (or gradually descending). While trees limit my visibility to a few miles it appears they are on final approach (northbound) into Paine Field.” – Frank, Bainbridge Island
“On sunny Summer days the wind is almost always out of the North and aircraft take-off in that direction. Formerly south bound aircraft would first climb several thousand feet towards the Alki area before turning south west over the Puget Sound. This south bound flight pattern appears to be no more. Rather, aircraft taking off to the north still level out over Alki, but are now all first vectored west directly over Bainbridge Island. These changes mean we are getting pounded with jet aircraft noise as never before.” – Christopher, southeast Bainbridge Island
“I have been blasting a fan in my room every night so I can sleep. Even with the fan running, last summer I was jolted & scared out of a deep sleep by a close, loud plane that was shaking my bedroom & it sounded like it was heading for my bedroom window & I could see bright lights through my blinds. It felt as if there was a war going on around us!!” – Susan, Bainbridge Island
“Go figure…..BI residents are complaining about airplane noise. That’s what you get for living near Seattle which just happens to have an airport near by. Some on BI feel that they can stomp their feet and gets things their way. Hate to say it but you are not the only ones in this state so get over it.” – sanjagtl, online commenter
Even if you don’t have a problem with airplane noise, it’s still interesting to know what’s going on in the air above the island and peninsula.
Sea-Tac provided us with flight tracks from typical north flow and south flow days for the original story. They showed how planes are routed heavily over the island on north flow days (typically clear summer days), while planes are routed away from the island on south flow days (overcast days).
Officials also sent Bainbridge Island City Manager Doug Schulze graphics comparing flight tracks over the last few years. Schulze was kind enough to pass those charts along.
Below is a look at flight tracks from north flow days in 2010, 2012 and 2013. According to these graphics, there has been virtually no change in recorded tracks in and out of Sea-Tac in the last four years:
These tracks show arrivals and departures at Sea-Tac, but what about all the planes flying to and from other airports? Sea-Tac provided another dizzying graphic showing overflights above Puget Sound during a 24 hour period. This was Sept. 1, 2013:
Much of this traffic originated from King County International Airport (Boeing Field), as well as the sea plane base in Renton. These include many small planes and cargo planes.
A number of commenters alluded to route changes taking place due to the Greener Skies initiative, which aims to reduce emissions and noise in the Seattle area. I’m waiting for more information on this, but from what I understand the project is being implemented in phases with only a few airlines participating thus far.
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