Virginia Beach’s NAS Oceana is One of the Finest Master Jet Bases in the Nation
An intense rushing noise fills the air. In certain areas of Virginia Beach, the sound can be almost deafening. If this is your first visit to the area you may be perplexed or even concerned by the turbulent sound. Locals aren’t phased by the noise. That’s because to them, the sound symbolizes freedom and the active military presence in Virginia Beach. You may even see bumper stickers that read “I ♥ Jet Noise.”
Naval Air Station Oceana is a local source of pride. The base mission is to service the air fleet and support troops aboard the aircraft carriers that deploy from the region. This naval instillation is the home of our nation’s top jet squadrons and one of the largest employers in the city. The base was initially commissioned in what used to be an isolated location on August 17, 1943. Yet it grew with the importance of naval aviation.
When jets were introduced into the Navy’s arsenal, Oceana’s isolation and long runways made it the perfect location for servicing these aircraft. Today the naval community of Virginia Beach numbers around 20,000, this includes family members, servicemen and women and employees. There are over 11,000 military members stationed at NAS Oceana.
The Jets of NAS Oceana
Oceana has seen a variety of jets on its runways, including F-4s, A-6s and the famous F-14 Tomcats. But as time and technology moved forward, so did naval aircraft. Today, NAS Oceana operates 18 F/A-18 strike fighter squadrons. These impressive jets, better known as the Hornets and Super Hornets, act as the tip of the spear for our forces when deployed aboard aircraft carriers.
The Hornets and Super Hornets are high-performance, tactical airplanes that operate either from aircraft carriers or land bases. The Hornets zoom through the air at up to Mach 1.8 (1,140 mph). They carry a variety of missiles and weaponry as well as cutting edge radar technology.
The Hornets are part of the Carrier Air Wings, units that serve as the air power aboard aircraft carriers. There are only ten of these units in the U.S., and five are based at NAS Oceana. Each unit consists of roughly 2,500 personnel and 60-65 aircraft, each supporting a different aircraft carrier. Five aircraft carriers are based at nearby Naval Station Norfolk, just 35 miles from Oceana. Carriers are a symbol of our nation’s military might. The size of a small city, each can carry up to 5,000 men and women when deployed.
When you hear the jets flying overhead, remember that it’s the sound of the brave men and women sacrificing so much to protect our nation’s freedom.
NAS Oceana Air Show
Every year in September, thousands of visitors come to Virginia Beach to experience the power of naval aviation. NAS Oceana, the East Coast’s only Master Jet Base, opens their base for a safe and fun weekend as they host the NAS Oceana Air Show. This amazing air show gives thrills and chills to all onlookers as they witness aerial feats like no other. This action-packed weekend is fun for the whole family. The air show features such favorites as the legendary U.S. Navy Blue Angels, parachute teams and so much more! Admission and parking are free so be sure to arrive early. For a full schedule of events a list of performers, visit OceanaAirShow.com.
Meet Two Local Military Families
Virginia Beach and nearby Norfolk have a huge military presence. Although a life in the military is filled with excitement for our brave servicemen and women, military families experience a mix of emotions—joy, pride and many challenges.
Frantz Bien-Aime joined the Navy in 2009. He and his wife and children moved around to a variety of places—Florida, Texas and Norfolk. They recently were stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas. Currently Frantz is a lieutenant flying C2 aircraft.
Hatler Riddle, is a Chief Warrant officer who’s been in the Navy for 20 years. He and his wife, Shannon, met while they both were stationed in Guam, she in the Air Force. After Guam, they moved to San Diego, then Virginia Beach and on to Rhode Island. Because of their love of the area, they fought to get stationed back in Virginia Beach.
Both families love their experience with the military and the pride and excitement that come along with it. Yet with homes and children on the home front, wives Michelle and Shannon both struggle with the long deployments that send their husbands out for months at a time. What helps is the bond between military families—a community that understands and shares the same struggles and triumphs. They love the friendly people of Virginia Beach and the pride the region has for their local military.