Navy Readies Wallops Site For Landing Practice


NORFOLK – The Navy and NASA have formalized an agreement for Norfolk-based planes to practice carrier landings at the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

In coming weeks, the Navy will begin installing lighting at the airfield to simulate the deck configuration aboard an aircraft carrier.

It also will construct concrete pads and install utilities at a workstation where Navy landing signal officers will grade the touch-and-go landing maneuvers.

NASA and the Navy announced they had reached a deal in January, bringing an end to the Navy’s long search for an alternate site to Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field in Chesapeake for turboprop planes.

The agreement, which the agencies announced in a news release Thursday, calls for the Navy to pay NASA $1.9 million per year for repairs and upgrades to the field. It also will reimburse the space agency for support services used during training periods.

Squadrons flying twin-engine, turboprop E-2 Hawkeyes and C-2 Greyhounds will use Wallops for up to two weeks at a time, for a maximum of 28 weeks per year. The Navy estimates its pilots could fly up to 20,000 passes per year at Wallops.

Ted Brown, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, said the Navy expects to save money by having squadrons train at Wallops instead of sending them on weekslong detachments to a landing field outside Jacksonsville, Fla., where they currently go when Fentress is busy.

Brown said crews could start using Wallops as early as this fall.

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