Tags: us | base | closing | last | flight

Last Aircraft Leave Closing Maine Navy Base

Saturday, 28 Nov 2009 02:36 PM


  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- The two last planes at Maine's Brunswick Naval Air Station lifted off Saturday in blustery winds, ending nearly 60 years of maritime patrol operations at New England's last active-duty military air base.

The P-3 Orions of the VP-26 squadron lumbered down an 8,000-foot runway before heading off to a six-month deployment in Central America. After that, they fly to their new home at Florida's Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

The planes took off without any speeches or fanfare about 50 minutes apart Saturday afternoon. A small group of visitors gathered at the base operations building to watch, including Albert Stehle of Bowingham, whose father, Leroy Stehle, commanded the VP-26 during the early 1970s.

Special: Get Sarah Palin’s New Book – Incredible FREE Offer – Click Here Now.

"I just came to see the last plane take off," said Stehle, a building contractor who lives in the flight path of the base and will no longer be able to look up and see the planes bearing the squadron's trident insignia. "After being a Navy brat for all these years and having to miss your dad because he was off on deployment, you finally realize it was all for a great cause."

Brunswick, once home to 4,000 sailors and six patrol squadrons, now has a skeleton crew. Its two runways are scheduled to close in January and personnel will continue to leave the base until it closes for good in May 2011.

The decision to shutter the base was made in the final round of closings by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission in 2005. The 3,200-acre base will be turned over to a redevelopment group.

The Brunswick Naval Air Station opened during World War II to train British and Canadian pilots. After the war, the base was deactivated for a time before the U.S. Navy moved in.

The P-3 Orions, which went into operation in the 1960s, tracked Soviet submarines in the Atlantic Ocean during the Cold War. More recently, the planes have been used on drug interdiction missions and in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Helping to oversee Saturday's departures was Cmdr. Jeff Draeger, executive officer of VP-26.

Draeger, who is scheduled to depart Brunswick on Tuesday aboard a military airlift, said he and his wife, a P-3 pilot whom he met at the Naval Academy, have enjoyed their two tours with Brunswick and plan to keep their home there.

"We love it, he said. "The local community has been very supportive and the Navy has felt very welcome."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Suspect Arrested in Death of 2 California Deputies

Saturday, 25 Oct 2014 09:50 AM

A man armed with an assault rifle shot three sheriff's deputies and a civilian, killing two of the deputies and leading  . . .

Washington School Gunman Was Homecoming Prince

Saturday, 25 Oct 2014 07:49 AM

Jaylen Fryberg was well liked and athletic, a football player named to his high school's homecoming court just one week  . . .

Duncan's Nurses: We Held His Hand When Nobody Else Would

Friday, 24 Oct 2014 23:08 PM

The last people to hold Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan's hands to comfort him as he was dying at Dallas' Texas Presbyt . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved