It's no secret that landing an airplane on an aircraft carrier isn't easy. It's the stuff of Tom Cruise flicks and Discovery Channel specials. And even the best pilots need to practice. In fact, for every carrier landing a Naval Aviator logs, he or she has done at least a dozen field landings simulating the carrier environment. This Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) generally takes place at "outlying" fields away from the main air station so as not to unduly clog up the traffic patterns.
But the east coast Navy has a problem. Cultural sprawl around Virginia Beach has forced officials to look for an alternative to the current outlying field at Fentress. FCLPs happen 'round the clock (like ice time for little league hockey in Michigan), and folks don't like jets flying over their heads at three in the morning.
So the Navy's looking for another spot. They thought they had a line on a couple of good locations in North Carolina in either Beaufort or Washington county, but those were shot down by Senator Elizabeth Dole, who cited the Navy's failure "to adequately address environmental and safety concerns about allowing fighter jets to land near a wildlife refuge." (Read "rich and influential retirees don't want noisy jets around them.")
But fear not. AP is reporting that Senator John Warner has suggested a site outside of Richmond, near Fort Pickett. And William D. Coleburn, the local mayor, loves the idea.
Were used to the artillery sounds, the booms at night at Fort Pickett, its the sound of freedom, Coleburn said. This is a different sound, but if its a different sound that also makes the cash registers ring and employs people, I would be interested in listening.
Patriotism ain't dead yet, folks.
(Gouge: NC)(Photo: F9