Whidbey Island Washington
A-3 Skywarriors At Ault Field
NAS Whidbey Island
NAS Whidbey Island dates back to January 1941 when the Navy started to explore new locations to rearm and refuel seaplanes operating in the Puget Sound area. Construction began and the first PBY ‘Catalina’ landed at Oak Harbor’s Seaplane Base in December 1942.
PBY Catalina At The Oak Harbor Seaplane Base
The Navy decided it wanted an airfield on Whidbey Island in November of 1941. On December 8, 1941, the day after Japan attacked U.S. Forces in Hawaii and the Philippines, they began surveying Clover Valley northwest of Oak Harbor. 4,325 acres were laid out and the first aircraft landed there in August of 1942. The field was named Ault Field, in memory of CDR William B. Ault, missing in action in the Battle of the Coral Sea. By the end of 1943 the early F4F Wildcat squadrons were replaced by F6F Hellcats.
NAS Whidbey Island Ault Field Flightline - 1940's
Ault Field has two 8,000 foot runways used for day-to-day flight operations and there is a 5,400 foot runway at Outlying Field Coupeville (adjacent to Admiral’s Cove) that is used for Field Carrier Landing Practice by the EA-6B ‘Prowlers’ and EA-18G ‘Growlers’ stationed at Ault Field.
Aerial view of Ault Field
The Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is located 90 miles north of Seattle. It is the largest naval aviation installation in the Pacific Northwest. It is also one of the four naval installations forming the Navy Region Northwest. Flight operatins at the seaplane base ended in the late 1960s but the Navy's original site on Whidbey Island is still in use. A fuel terminal on Crescent Harbor pumps jet fuel to Ault Field for the Naval aircraft stationed there. The Commissary and Navy Exchange are conveniently located close to Navy Housing and the Navy Lodge. The hospital remained operational until the 1970s when a new medical facility was built on Ault Field. Underground ordnance bunkers have been in use since 1942.
Navy Outlying Field Coupeville In 1944
For more information: HistoryLink and Wikipedia and the Whidbey-Camano Website