OLF is not needed here, or in North Carolina

Published 8:38 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To the Editor:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the editorial “A Mixed Bag on OLF”(Dec. 27). Camden County basically is saying that the Navy should put the OLF in Virginia, that we are a better choice. That statement implies that there is a long-term need for an OLF. I have never said the OLF should be stuck in North Carolina, and I don’t think anyone in the Virginia organization has said that. I believe it’s a want, not a need.

First of all, there has not yet been any money appropriated in the Navy’s defense budget for an OLF. Secondly, there is no bottomless pit of resources from which the government can squeeze the needed funds. Our economy isn’t predicted to make a quick turn-around.

Thirdly, and most importantly, I feel the Navy and its planners should take a long hard, serious and honest look down the road a few years at the future of Oceana and the next generation of planes before it makes a decision to build an OLF anywhere, whether here or in North Carolina. Oceana does not have the land size to handle the F/A-35’s and the locals will likely not tolerate the noise which is even louder than the super hornets. The super hornets have been very good planes and have served us well in combat. However, they are old and some have begun to crack, needing repairs. No one denies the fact that our pilots need to train to develop their skills to land on a “postage stamp” in the ocean.

However, there are bases already in existence which can serve in this capacity. Too, it appears that more of the preliminary training could be done with simulators.

The BRAAC commission, just a few years back, after studying NAS Oceana and Fentress stated that an OLF was not needed. The number of planes has decreased — can you count the crashes in recent months? We don’t want our heritage, history, homes and farms covered over with concrete and destroyed for a short-sighted five- or 10-year ordeal.

Lynda Updike