IOW wants dialog on Navy training

Published 9:46 am Saturday, December 18, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—Newport District Supervisor Stan Clark said Friday he voted to go on record in opposition to the Navy’s use of Franklin Municipal Airport for touch-and-go exercises to open dialog between the Isle of Wight and the Navy.

“Originally, the Navy didn’t talk to us at all,” Clark said. “They talked to Franklin, and I don’t even think they realized truthfully that the airport lies within the jurisdictional confines of Isle of Wight County.”

The city of Franklin owns and operates the airport, which is located in Isle of Wight County. In October, the Navy announced its intention to negotiate for the use of the Franklin airport for touch-and-go exercises for E-2 and C-2 turboprop aircraft based in Norfolk.

“My vote was to get the Navy’s attention so they would at least talk to us,” Clark said.

Last month, the board voted unanimously to go on record opposing the use of the field for touch-and-go exercises. Navy officials were scheduled to appear at the board’s Thursday meeting, but the meeting was postponed until Friday because of inclement weather. Board Chairman Thomas Wright said Navy officials would appear at the board’s Jan. 6 meeting instead.

Joe Joyner, who lives near the airport in Isle of Wight, and Carrsville resident Daryl Butler both told the board they didn’t think Tuesday’s flight demonstration was a fair representation of what actual training would be like.

“That’s twice they’ve had a fly-by and they haven’t done it right yet,” Joyner said. “Once they get in there, they won’t do it right.”

Both thanked the board for its vote in opposition to the plan in November.

“We’re still very much opposed to the idea of the Navy using the Franklin airport for the turboprop planes,” Butler said. “Nobody wants the Navy in their front yard, but we didn’t intentionally build our houses on this airport here with the Navy using it as people have done in Virginia Beach.”

Clark said board members and county staff members are “150 percent in support of our troops.”

“There’s not a board around that’s more patriotic,” he said. “We needed to do something to get (the Navy’s) attention. I think we’ve gotten their attention and now it’s time for us to listen and see what they have to say.”