The Outlying Landing Field
(OLF) is a proposed United States Navy
practice airstrip to be built in eastern North Carolina
Proposed sites for the OLF include Washington and Beaufort Counties along the Albemarle Sound.
The purpose of the OLF would be a practice field where Navy pilots could simulate landings on an aircraft carrier
. In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
, the Department of Defense
re-based several military air squadrons to the eastern coast of the United States. To support these new planes based at Oceana
and Cherry Point MCAS
, the D.o.D. determined a need for closer practice field in North Carolina.
Most of the planes involved are F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets.
Planes re-based include:
- 24 fighters (two squadrons of F-18s) to MCAS Cherry Point
- 120 aircraft (nine squadrons of F-18s) to NAS Oceana
The field's construction has been delayed because of intense criticism for ecological impact. Critics worry about the locations because they are the nesting and breeding grounds for thousands of sea-birds and geese.
Recent concerns include a repopulation project for the Red Wolf, considered extinct in the wild in North Carolina since the early 1980s. Reintroduced wolves have been breeding in the areas around the potential OLF site; ecological groups worry that the air strip would adversely affect these animals' hunting and breeding habits.
In addition, the loud noise of numerous fighter jets is also a cause for contention. To alleviate the noise concern, the Marine Corps. performed "test" overflights of the region to demonstrate what the aircraft would sound like during takeoff and landing.
On January 22nd of 2008, the Navy announced it had scrapped plans for an OLF in the Washington/Beaufort county (aka "Site C") as well as for an OLF in Craven
, and Perquimans
counties. Other proposed locations now envisioned include Gates
counties in North Carolina as well as 3 other possible locations in Virginia. Some of these proposed locations have started their own efforts to prevent the OLF from being located at their own locale.