February 2, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
The Navy is inviting public participation in two informational meetings as it begins the process of studying two possible locations in California as a base for the new Joint Strike Fighter.
The Navy recently issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement on basing the aircraft at either Naval Air Station Lemoore or Naval Air Facility El Centro.
The proposed action is in connection with the Navy’s replacement of its aging F/A-18C Hornet aircraft with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, a highly advanced, single-engine, single-seat, supersonic multi-role strike-fighter aircraft.
The F-35C’s advanced capabilities and training requirements may require that special-use airspace be expanded or modified for its future training missions. That possibility makes it vital for general aviation pilots to become familiar with the proposal and be prepared to comment on the potential aeronautical impact of a decision about where to base the aircraft.
AOPA is reviewing the proposals, will submit formal comments to the Navy, and urges pilots to attend one of the meetings.
The meetings will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Southwest High School, 2001 Ocotillo Drive, El Centro, CA 92243, and from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 17 at Lemoore Senior Center, 789 South Lemoore Avenue (18th Avenue) Lemoore, CA.
Both meetings will offer displays and material for public review, and Navy staff will be available to answer questions.
Written comments will be accepted through March 14 and may be mailed to US Navy F-35C West Coast Homebasing EIS Project Manager, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest (Code EV21/AL); 1220 Pacific Highway, Bldg 1, San Diego, CA 92132. Be sure to send a copy of your comments to AOPA’s Air Traffic Services department.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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