Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress
The Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress is located approximately 7 miles southwest of NAS Oceana. It was established in 1940 and comprises 2,560 acres, with an additional 8,780 acres in restrictive easements. NALF Fentress has one 8,000 foot runway equipped to simulate an aircraft carrier flight deck. It is used by squadrons stationed at NAS Oceana or NS Norfolk Chambers Field for Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) operations. These operations are intended to familiarize the pilot with carrier landings and must be conducted under both daytime and nighttime operational conditions. Prior to deployments, the local community may experience increased operations, as pilots complete training exercises. Pilots perform approximately 140,000 operations at NALF Fentress annually. The NALF Fentress traffic pattern is limited to five aircraft.
Both Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress in Chesapeake, VA and Naval Station (NS) Norfolk Chambers Field in Norfolk, VA are under the command of NAS Oceana. The Fentress landing field was established as a part of NAS Oceana during World War II and was used until the early 1970's. As a part of training operations, firefighting training was conducted at the airfield. Typically, bermed rings were constructed and jet fuels and spent oils were dumped, ignited and extinguished by the trainees. As a result, the site was identified as an area of concern and was placed into the Navy Installation Restoration (IR) Program.
The number of aircraft based at Norfolk and Oceana and the requirement for Field Carrier Landing Practice to support training syllabus for fleet and Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) have challenged the capacity of NALF Fentress. This requirement has been recognized and a search is ongoing for a location to augment the capability of Fentress.
The encroachment issue has already started to impact Camp Pendleton in California and Fentress Airfield in Chesapeake, Virginia. Some homeowners claim that noise from Navy jets at Oceana Naval Air Station and Fentress Airfield has lowered their property values and lessened their quality of life.
Citizens Concerned About Jet Noise (CCAJN) has advocated several measures that, if implemented, will significantly improve the quality of life of residents and make this area more attractive for business and tourism, most importantly, establish a second, remote outlying field at which routine touch-and-go operations would be conducted as a reasonable pre-condition to basing Super Hornets at Oceana. The cost of a second OLF is projected to be between $40-115 Million (Navy estimate).
Over the modern battlefield, an increasing percentage of operations are conducted at night. Night flying is an integral part of an aviator's training program. In particular, night Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) - the simulated carrier landing practice conducted at Chambers Field, NALF Fentress and NAS Oceana - is crucial training for maintaining the proficiency of aircrews. To be effective, night flight training must occur in sufficient conditions of darkness, which necessitates later hours of operations during summer months, when sunset occurs after 8:30 p.m. This situation may be aggravated, such as when operations pick up prior to carrier deployment, resulting in a higher number of scheduled night operations.
Naval pilots are required to comply with noise abatement procedures. Procedures used to reduce noise upon takeoff include securing afterburners no later than the airfield boundary and climbing rapidly on departure, taking the noise away from the community. Flight crews are periodically briefed on the existing patterns and the need to maintain the published patterns. Night operations are limited to those that are necessary and essential.
Number and Type of Annual Operations Projected for FY 2000 - |
Note: A takeoff or a landing each count as one operation. A pattern such as FCLP counts as two operations.
a The environmental impact statement to assess the relocation of Atlantic Fleet F/A-18 squadrons from NAS Cecil Field, Florida, to other east coast installations projected that operations at NAS Oceana and NALF Fentress would peak by FY 1999. The highest level of aircraft operations, however, will not be reached until FY 2000.
b For the purposes of modeling, nighttime is defined as the time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Source: Final Environmental Impact Statement for Realignment of F/A-18 Aircraft and Operational Functions from NAS Cecil Field, Florida to Other East Coast Installations (March 1998).
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