Military Training Responsible for Low-Flying Helicopters over Snoqualmie Valley

The helicopter inquiries started coming in around 11PM, Thursday, May 7, 2015. Multiple low-flying helicopters created enough noise to be heard throughout the upper Snoqualmie Valley, but was more pronounced in North Bend.

But this time the helicopters weren’t in response for usual suspect – a search and rescue mission at Snoqualmie Pass or on the hiking trails.  This one was for a nighttime military training exercise conducted at the Washington State Fire Training (FTA) Academy just east of North Bend, off I-90 exit 38.

The same nighttime military training will also occur Friday, May 8th, beginning around 10PM – 11PM. The noise might be most noticeable around 11PM and again at 1AM as 2-3 helicopters arrive and depart from the FTA.  

Please note:  There is nowhere to view the activity so residents are asked NOT to attempt access to the FTA area as it will be closed off.

Last year in mid May, a similar training operation occurred where U.S. Army Special Operation Forces simulated a military operation and had three helicopters flying at low altitude in and around the Washington State Fire Training Academy while soldiers trained on the academy grounds.

Last year, FTA Lt. Dan Atchinson, said the helicopters flew into the training facility over Snoqualmie Pass from the east.  This year the helicopters flew in from the west and over the I-90 corridor, making it more noticeable for Valley residents.

Late Thursday night, Valley Camp, located on SE Middle Fork Road and near the Fire Training Academy, stated via social media the training (and helicopters)  would last until 1AM both nights – and that the noise was “incredible” from their location.

fire training academy
WA State Fire Training Academy, just east of North Bend. Photo: Facebook





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  • I’ll bet that if you were to do a night-time hike on Mailbox and be on the summit when they arrive or leave that you would get a good view of at least a part of the pattern.

  • Living Snoqualmie