Airplane noise meeting in Magnolia tonight

Over the last few days, there have been a couple incidents of loud airplanes over the greater Ballard area that “sounded like it might come right into the living room,” wrote one My Ballard reader earlier this week. Turns out, this is quite the issue in our neighborhood to the south, where our sister site Magnolia Voice has been awash in comments complaining about an apparent rise in airplane noise. And tonight (Thursday), the Magnolia Community Club is hosting a public meeting with representatives from the Port of Seattle, Boeing Field and Alaska Airlines. It’s at 7 p.m. in the Catherine Blaine School Cafeteria at 2550 34th Avenue West, next to Magnolia Community Center.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

21 thoughts to “Airplane noise meeting in Magnolia tonight”

  1. I wonder if SeaTac changed a flight path or something. I noticed it the other day too – around 9 pm on Tuesday it sounded as if a plane was landing on 20th.

  2. I've noticed an occasional loud roar in the evening, but nothing to really complain about. Maybe it's louder over Magnolia. Or maybe those residents with million dollar houses think their property taxes pay for an exclusive no fly zone over their homes. Remember, they're the same ones who complained about the summer cruise ships playing Jimmy Buffett music. Geez.

  3. Could just be noticing it more due to cooler weather and more cloud cover. Unlikely they are routing planes much different and if they are below a certain altitude they will get dinged by the FAA.

  4. Well… I wish them luck on getting anything resolved with SeaTac.

    I live in White Center and since they opened the 3rd runway noise has sky rocketed. White Center and Burien have a potential lawsuit going.

  5. I seem to remember every year at this time that the airplanes seem to make more noise. Usually the same weather conditions too as I step out to take a look and see what plane it is. Low clouds and a bit foggy, wind out of the south. Wind direction and speed has an effect on sound waves so a shift will change perception.

    I used to go over there around 11-midnite to walk with my dog with a view of the city once in a while. It is the only community that I have been repeatedly followed in and out while I am driving. It was a couple years ago but I was incredulous at how they rated to get patrol cars following outlanders while in Magnolia.

  6. Great idea. The new mayor thinks it's a great idea to tear down highways and not replace them, so why stop with just the viaduct? Let's sink the I-90 and 520 bridges, plow up I-5 through the city, and close the airports. It'll be nice and quiet then!

  7. Hmmm, interesting. I would think we'd notice it less in cooler weather when doors and windows are closed up tight. Never thought about cloud cover being a factor.

  8. There *was* an especially loud jet that flew over Ballad the other night – I noticed it immediately, and as a pilot I listen carefully for airplanes that fly by. This was the loudest one I've ever heard here, and I've lived right under the flight path for a long time. Not only was it unusually loud, it also lasted a long time – much longer than the usual commercial traffic going into Seatac that's the source of 99% of aircraft noise around here.

    Yesterday I went out to Boeing Field on an errand, and looked around for what might have been the source of that especially noisy flight, and I'm pretty sure I found it: there was an F-16 (an Air Force jet fighter) parked on the field, near a federal government Gulfstream (small executive jet used for VIP transport). I believe the Gulfstream was probably here for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was in town for an event that day. VP Joe Biden was also at Fort Lewis (near Tacoma) that same day for a memorial service. F-16s visit Boeing field fairly regularly, but I suspect this one may have been in town as part of increased security with both the Vice President and Speaker of the House in town.

    I've seen (and heard) F-16s going in and out of Boeing Field many times, and they are incredibly loud on takeoff. On landing they're usually not *that* loud. The loud jet that flew over on Tuesday evening about 8:45 pm was definitely on approach to runway 13R at Boeing Field (I fly that approach all the time, it goes right over my house). When it flew over, I ran outside to see what it was. I noted the weather conditions (low clouds) and saw the lights of the plane as they disappeared to the south over Elliott Bay but couldn't identify it visually. I don't recall ever seeing/hearing at F-16 at night before.

    I think the reasons it was so much louder that what we're all used to are all of the following:
    1. It was an F-16, and they are just really loud, period.
    2. It was low, lower than usual, probably due to the poor weather and – maybe – the pilot was a bit lower than he probably should have been. Not dangerously low (your chimney was never in danger) but lower than the suggested minimums.
    3. The low cloud deck combined with the topography (the approach goes over what is essentially a “valley” former by Queen Anne t the east and Magnolia to the west) amplified the sound, keeping it “trapped” on all sides, so it probably reflected and bounced around a bit.

    In any case, there's nothing to get too excited about here. Unless you bought your house a very, very long time ago, the airports were here before you were, and you probably shouldn't be too surprised that there are planes going by and making some noise. It's part of living in a city. FWIW I get a lot more noise at my house in Ballard from the constant low roar of traffic on I-5 than i do from any planes going by.

    Personally, the aircraft noise doesn't bother me – I consider it part of the charm of the area.

  9. Thank you for your informed comment. I belive you are right. Everytime the president or VP or, like you said, the house speaker are in town they always have 1 or 2 (two i would think) F-16 escorts.

    I also enjoy the air traffic.

  10. “FWIW I get a lot more noise at my house in Ballard from the constant low roar of traffic on I-5 than i do from any planes going by.”

    You hear I-5 in BALLARD?! Phinney Ridge isn't enough dirt to block the noise, huh? Wow. I only hear trains and aircraft in Ballard.

    I think the float planes are the worst noise. I am under the approach for north Lake Washington “water”port. I am under one of the six approaches to SeaTac. (There are three from the east at different N-S intervals, and three from the west) I was part of the noise mitigation grumblings years ago. You notice it mostly during the summer when your windows are open. But in the winter, aircraft are allowed to fly under the cloud ceiling for safety reasons, putting them closer to the ground more often. The complaints of aircraft noise over Magnolia are almost exclusively about King County Airport (Boeing Field) since the runway lines them up that direction and changing it would not be safe (according to the airport authority).

    Commercial aircraft have become amazingly quiet compared to a decade ago even. The float planes are loud because they don't muffle their engines. Since they are are about as airworthy as the famous “Spruce Goose”, they have to generate a lot of RPMs to stay aloft with all that wind resistance, which also makes them loud. But they have been getting better. Historic aircraft also have little noise control as it didn't used to be a big deal before every square inch of the planet became populated. And military aircraft? Well, when you want to be the fastest dude in the air, you don't muffle the engine or trim any more horsepower than it takes to stay airborne.

    It has gotten to the point where aircraft noise is part of the background noise. Loud motorcycles, honking horns, train whistles, the roar of I-5, loud clubs that spill out onto the surrounding streets… Your only real solution to noise now is triple pane windows and air conditioning. And yelling over it during backyard BBQs.

  11. “FWIW I get a lot more noise at my house in Ballard from the constant low roar of traffic on I-5 than i do from any planes going by.”

    I live 2 blocks away from I-5 and I can't even hear it and we don't even have the sound barriers by us…

  12. Well…. for folks like me who's old ass double pane windows have all failed seals, it's basically like having the windows wide open.

    For serious! I need Penguin Windows out here yesterday!

  13. Ballardpilot–awesome post. Now can you explain the extremely loud plane that sounded like it was going to land in my yard one Tuesday morning at about 3 am a couple of weeks ago? My husband and I flew out of bed–I have never in my life heard a plane so loud, so low. We could see the strobe lights. It was also a foggy morning.

    As for Magnolia residents and their meeting….I just hope they don't move the flight path with their complaining like they moved the Ballard High
    School boundary.

  14. kikiwiki,

    There are very few jets that arrive in the wee hours. There is one notable exception, though, which is what I suspect you heard: EVA Air has a flight to Seatac that comes in from Taipei around 4 am several times a week, and when the wind is from the south (as it usually is), that flight comes in right over Ballard & Magnolia. It's been this way for years. I've become quite used to it but it still wakes me occasionally – it's such a regular thing that when I hear it, I immediately know that I've got a good hour left that I can still sleep – it's kind of like a colossal snooze button. That flight is a 747 and is moderately loud (but nothing like the F-16 the other night). Because it's the only flight during the late night/early morning hours, it probably just seems louder. As others have noted, under certain weather conditions, the sound appears louder than usual. That's my guess for what you heard.

    As for Magnolia residents getting the Seatac approach path moved, that's very unlikely. Airspace is under federal jurisdiction and the FAA is notoriously resistant to making changes. And the current flight paths have already been optimized about as much as possible to minimize the noise, so I wouldn't worry much.

    Hope that helps.

Leave a Reply