June 18, 2010

Air Force jet combat practice provides a show for Hatteras islanders

By IRENE NOLAN



GeeGee Rosell, owner of Buxton Village Books, heard the roaring jets, which are not unusual here on the Outer Banks.  But last night, she also heard loud booms and after dark saw what she described as “red and gold” flashes of light out over the ocean.

“I felt as though I was living ‘Taffy of Torpedo Junction,’” Rosell said today.

“Taffy” is the beloved children’s book about a youngster living in Buxton during World War II when German U-boats were attacking and sinking Allied ships along the East Coast and thunderous booms, rattling windows, and glowing fires out over the ocean became part of the lives of islanders during the 1942 Battle of Torpedo Junction.

This was not, however, a repeat of Taffy’s story.

Last night, there were 20 F-15s from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base practicing basic air combat maneuvering off Hatteras, according to Senior Chief Petty Officer Jim Moore of U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.

Seymour Johnson AFB is located near Goldsboro, N.C., southwest of Hatteras, but Moore said that it’s not unusual for the jets to practice maneuvers off the Outer Banks.

Moore said that the flashes of light were flares that the jets use to divert heat-seeking missiles in actual combat, and the F-15 crews were practicing this maneuver.

Although jet noise from military operations is not unusual on Hatteras and Ocracoke, actually seeing the flashes of light is.

Moore said that the military has strict regulations on how close to the coast these maneuvers can be conducted, and he speculated that perhaps atmospheric conditions made the noise and flashes of light more noticeable last night.

The jets are back this afternoon, but we may or may not see the flashing lights from the flares tonight.

But if you do, remember that it is the United States military at work.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

You can find more information on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the F-15s at
http://www.seymourjohnson.af.mil/



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