Local Military News

Call grows louder for alternate Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort landing field

Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron's F/A-18D's at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

FILE: U.S. Marines with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron-533 (VMFA/AW-533) conduct flight operations with F/A-18D Hornets aboard Marine Air Station Beaufort. S.C., on April 08, 2016. Marines practiced the flight route before leaving on d
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FILE: U.S. Marines with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron-533 (VMFA/AW-533) conduct flight operations with F/A-18D Hornets aboard Marine Air Station Beaufort. S.C., on April 08, 2016. Marines practiced the flight route before leaving on d

Have you noticed jets ripping over Beaufort more often?

You’re not alone, and the seeming increase in noise from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort has some again calling for an outlying landing field to move flights away from more populous areas. The increase in noise over the city can be attributed to an alternate runway being used while another is being resurfaced, MCAS spokesman Capt. Clay Groover said.

The work on the main runway is expected to be completed by late summer. The alternate runway will then be resurfaced and, after that project, the flight patterns should return to normal, said Jim Wegmann, chairman of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Military Enhancement Committee.

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said he has been assured the increased noise isn’t permanent but is still calling for a renewed push for an outlying airfield.

A petition to the U.S. Navy and members of Congress should be a next step, he said. The mayor said he supported the F-35B during public events about the aircraft coming to Beaufort years ago.

“I also said that an outlying field would be necessary,” Keyserling wrote in his newsletter. “I stand by that. We have work to do.”

A group of residents from affected communities are working to start an online petition for an alternate landing field. Elected officials from Beaufort County, Beaufort and Port Royal passed resolutions last year supporting an outlying airfield.

Groover said MCAS isn’t the only Marine Corps Air Station without an outlying landing field.

“It should be noted that most of our training is conducted over the water to decrease the noise impact to our local residents, and our arrivals and departures usually reflect this movement to our training areas,” Groover said.

The alternate landing areas generally include a runway and minimal staffing and facilities, according to information on the outlying fields compiled by the chamber’s military committee. The most recent environmental impact study at the base didn’t show a need for an alternate field, the committee noted.

The committee said the alternate fields are built after:

▪  Identifying a reason existing facilities hinder operations

▪  Presenting a plan to the defense secretary

▪  Acquiring land and environmental permits

▪  Congress approving funding

Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen

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