Navy Moving Forward On Landing Strip

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Navy’s top officer said last week that the service will make its case for construction of a new practice landing strip in southeastern Virginia or northeastern North Carolina by emphasizing to nearby residents the importance of pilot training for night landings aboard aircraft carriers.

“We have to have a place where pilots can go fly that best replicates the environment that they’re going to experience” at sea, Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, told reporters.

The Navy wants the landing strip placed in a remote area where pilots can fly in and out in near-total darkness, but still relatively close to Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, its East Coast master jet base.

Roughead acknowledged that the Navy is facing serious local opposition to the proposed outlying landing field but said the service intends to press ahead with environmental and other studies of five potential sites announced in January. All are within 65 miles of Oceana.

Those sites, three in Virginia and two in North Carolina, were announced after the Navy abandoned a three-year effort to place the $250 million facility in Washington County, N.C. Local opposition similar to that which derailed the Washington County plan has sprung up near the new sites, each of which is located on timberland or farmland.

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