Naval Air Station Oceana or NAS Oceana is a military airport located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a United States Navy Master Jet Base. It is also known as Apollo Soucek Field, named after Lieutenant (later Admiral) Apollo Soucek, a Navy Test Pilot who set the global altitude record in 1930 by flying a Curtiss “Hawk” biplane to an altitude of 43,166 feet. NAS Oceana is the only Master Jet Base on the East Coast.
OCEANA NAS / APOLLO SOUCEK FIELD/ STATION HISTORY
In 1940, the U.S. Navy acquired the land that would eventually become Naval Air Station Oceana. At that time, the surrounding area was mainly farmland susceptible to flooding, but it served as a useful outlying field for the rapidly expanding Naval Air Force centered at NAS Norfolk and allowed units to work up for deployments away from the crowded base there. Airspace and airfield facility restrictions precluded NAS Norfolk from serving as the home station for tactical air units, and in the 1950s NAS Oceana was expanded to Master Jet Base-status to serve that purpose. NAS Oceana has grown to become one of the largest and most advanced air stations in the world, comprising 6,820 acres (including Dam Neck Annex). Obstruction clearances and flight easements total an additional 3,680 acres (14.9 km2). Its four runways, three measuring 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in length and one measuring 12,000 feet, are designed for high-performance aircraft. NAS Oceana’s primary mission is to train and deploy the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet strike fighter squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers stationed at NAS Oceana fly approximately 219,000 training operations each year.
Under the Navy’s Master Jet Base concept, all Type/Model/Series (T/M/S) aircraft were homebased at one field with associated intermediate maintenance and training facilities. In the 1960s, NAS Oceana became the home to all East Coast based F-4 Phantom II squadrons. Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101) established a detachment at NAS Oceana in its role as the Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS), formerly known as the Replacement Air Group or “RAG”, that trained aircrews and maintainers to operate the Phantom (at the time, VF-101 operated out of NAS Key West, Florida). After the F-14 Tomcat arrived on the scene in 1976, VF-101 transitioned to Tomcat operations and Phantom training operations shifted to newly established Fighter Squadron 171 (VF-171) to handle Atlantic Fleet training for the F-4 Phantom until it was retired from service in 1984. The last F-14 was retired on 22 September 2006. At one time, in addition to fighter aircraft, all of the Atlantic Fleet’s A-6 Intruder medium attack squadrons were also home-based at NAS Oceana, along with VA-42 as the associated Fleet Readiness Squadron charged with training all east coast A-6 pilots, bombardier/navigators and A-6 maintenance personnel. The A-6E was retired from the Fleet in 1997.
VF-213 & VF-31 conduct a flyover of NAS Oceana after returning from the Tomcat’s final deployment.
Additionally, NAS Oceana became home to the F/A-18 Hornet in 1999 following the Navy’s closure of NAS Cecil Field, Florida as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
Aside from its military function, NAS Oceana was an alternative landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttle until the program ended in 2011.
OCEANA NAS / APOLLO SOUCEK FIELD/ STATION LOCATION
OCEANA NAS / APOLLO SOUCEK FIELD/ STATION FACTS
Elevation: 23 ft.
Runway length available: 05R/23L 11997×200 ft. :: 05L/23R 8001×150 ft. :: 14R/32L 7999×200 ft. :: 14L/32R 8000×150 ft.