Navy to hear Virginia’s OLF pitches Site C landowners keep close watch

Published 11:56 am Monday, July 9, 2007

By By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
When Washington County farmer Al Ange spoke about a potential outlying landing field in eastern North Carolina, he had one piece of advice for the Navy panel he addressed this spring.
“Your problem is in Virginia and you need to go back there,” Ange said.
And this week, Navy officials will, indeed, go to Virginia. Or at least have Virginia come to them.
Officials from the commonwealth are scheduled to brief Navy leaders on a list of sites they think should be considered as OLF possibilities. That meeting is set for Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Virginia’s U.S. Sen. John Warner pitched Fort Pickett to the Navy in a letter from April. Fort Pickett was turned over to the Virginia National Guard in the mid-1990s. The facility is about 100 miles northwest of Virginia Beach, in rural, southeastern Virginia.
Warner contended the site would offer plenty of “controlled-access land” and that runway expansions there could happen “without encroachment concerns.”
Ange didn’t offer an opinion about where he thinks an OLF should go. But he clearly doesn’t believe it belongs on the border of Washington and Beaufort counties. In particular, he hopes it doesn’t go near his family’s land.
He supports training for military pilots from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Naval Air Station Oceana. But he doesn’t think “Site C” near Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is the best place to teach a pilot to land a jet. That’s the message he was trying to give when he spoke at the OLF public hearing in Plymouth three months ago.
The organized group of OLF naysayers, North Carolinians Opposed to an Outlying Landing Field, is also attuned to this week’s meeting. That group’s radar is always up, said spokeswoman Doris Morris.
Al Ange doesn’t lead the anti-OLF movement; he has land to tend. But worrying about what could happen to his family cemetery keeps him awake at night, he said. So while he’s keeping an eye on his fields, he and his family have all promised to be paying attention to what’s happening “up North.”