Naval Air Station Glynco
|Naval Air Station Glynco|
|IATA: none – ICAO: KNEA|
|Airport type||Military: Naval air station (decommissioned)|
|Owner/Operator||• Glynn County Airport Commission (current)
• United States Navy (former)
|In use||1942 - 1974|
|Elevation AMSL||26 ft / 7.9 m|
Now known as Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (IATA: BQK, ICAO: KBQK), it was previously known as Glynco Jetport following NAS Glynco's closure. It is a public airport located 5 miles (8 km) north of the city of Brunswick, in Glynn County, Georgia, USA. The airport has a single runway and is mostly used for general aviation, but it is also served by one commercial airline.
World War II
In August 1942, the U.S. Navy began building the air station on 2,400 acres (9.7 km2) in the northern part of the county. Named NAS Glynco as an abbreviation of Glynn County, it was initially constructed as an operational base for lighter-than-air airships, more commonly known as blimps.
In 14 months, workers at the new air station built two enormous wooden hangars, measuring 1,058 feet (322 m) long, 297 feet (91 m) wide and 182 feet (55 m) tall, to house an eight-ship fleet and to provide maintenance for blimps from other bases. Airship Patrol Squadron 15 (ZP-15), a subordinate unit of Fleet Airship Wing ONE at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey was subsequently based at NAS Glynco and was the principal unit based at the air station during World War II. Capable of sustained flight and state-of-the-art electronic submarine detection, blimps flew thousands of hours on coastal and maritime patrol, as well as convoy escort duty, protecting vulnerable ships delivering essential war materials. This convoy escort program has often been cited as one of the most successful defense operations of the war.
A runway for fixed-wing aircraft was also constructed at NAS Glynco, as multiple units on the base continued to contribute to significant advances in the development of new communications and electronics equipment, as well as new search and rescue procedures.
NAS Glynco was originally slated for decommissioning in 1949 when tensions in Korea prompted the Navy to reconsider the value of the airship's anti-submarine warfare capabilities. As a result, the base was retained in an active status and a full complement of blimps returned to NAS Glynco, primarily under Airship Patrol Squadrons 2 (ZP-2) and 3 (ZP-3). In addition, airship pilot training for previously designated heavier-than-air Naval Aviators from the fixed-wing and rotary-wing communities was conducted by the Airship Training Unit (ZTG) at NAS Glynco, which had moved from NAS Lakehurst in 1954. Other training functions followed. However, the Navy began to slowly dismantle the airship program and decommissioned ZP-2, ZP-3 and ZTG in 1959. The mammoth blimp hangars finally succumbed to the effects of time and climate and the unique landmarks were demolished in 1971.
Cold War/Vietnam War
As lighter-than-air operations declined, fixed-wing aircraft operations increased as NAS Glynco's runway was increased in length to slightly over 8,000 feet (2,400 m). In the 1960s, as the Navy expanded the role of Naval Aviation Observers, later redesignated as Naval Flight Officers (NFO), for the next generation of carrier-based multi-crew aircraft, NAS Glynco assumed added responsibility for advanced NFO training. The former Naval Air Technical Training Center Glynco was disestablished and Training Air Wing EIGHT (TRAWING 8), reporting to the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas was established at NAS Glynco in NATTC's place. Training Squadron 86 (VT-86) was subsequently established as a subordinate command to TRAWING 8 in order to provide advanced training for U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps NFOs slated for eventual assignment as Radar Intercept Officers (RIO) in the F-4 Phantom II and F-14 Tomcat, Bombardier Navigators (B/N) in the A-3 Skywarrior, A-5 Vigilante and A-6 Intruder, Reconnaissance Attack Navigators (RAN) in the RA-5C Vigilante, Reconnaissance Systems Officers (RSO) in the RF-4B Phantom II, Electronic Warfare Officers in the EA-3B Skywarrior, Electronic Countermeasures Officers in the EA-6A Intruder and EA-6B Prowler, Combat Information Center Officers (CICO) in the E-2 Hawkeye, and as Tactical Coordinators (TACCO) in the S-3 Viking. While at NAS Glynco, VT-86 operated a combination of 24 T-39 Sabreliner, 20 A-4C Skyhawk, 2 EC-121K Warning Star, and 12 TS-2A Tracker aircraft.
During this time, the Navy also examined adding three additional runways and enlarging NAS Glynco into a Master Jet Base. Although this expansion was never executed, it was later employed at other installations, such as Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia; Naval Air Station Miramar, California; Naval Air Station Lemoore, California and the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida.
In March 1962, NAS Glynco's mission expanded when the Navy's enlisted air traffic control schools transferred from Naval Air Technical Training Unit (NATTU) Olathe at Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas. The Air Traffic Control Schools Division of Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Glynco was subsequently established, providing "A" School, "B" School and "O" School instruction for U.S. Navy enlisted personnel in the Air Controller (AC) rating and similar training for enlisted U.S. Marines in the air traffic control military occupational speciality (MOS).
Cold War/Post-Vietnam War and Base Closure
NAS Glynco was identified for closure by the end of 1974, part of a wide-ranging series of post-Vietnam base closures that shuttered such installations as Naval Air Station Albany, Georgia (former Turner AFB), Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island, McCoy AFB, Florida and Kincheloe AFB, Michigan. As part of the base closure process, TRAWING 8 was decommissioned and VT-86 was transferred to Training Air Wing SIX (TRAWING 6) at NAS Pensacola, Florida where it continues to train NFOs for the F/A-18F Super Hornet, F/A-18D Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and EA-6B Prowler. Until recently, U.S. Air Force Navigators/Combat Systems Officers destined for Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) duties in the F-15E Strike Eagle and B-1B Lancer were also trained by VT-86; however, the Air Force's 479th Flying Training Group (also located at NAS Pensacola) now performs these duties. The Air Traffic Control Operations and Maintenance Schools were initially relocated to NATTC Millington at NAS Memphis, Tennessee and are now located with NATTC Pensacola at NAS Pensacola, Florida.
At the time of its closure, NAS Glynco had been a strong influence in Glynn County for over 31 years, both economically and as a proud element of local identity, and its closure initially took the local community by surprise. However, the Glynn County community took control of its destiny when a group of 19 community leaders formed the Glynco Steering Committee to attract new civilian users to the airfield. Their hard work paid off in 1975 when the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) selected NAS Glynco's former lighter-than-air/blimp site for a consolidated training academy for federal law enforcement personnel. The community retained the airfield, which was designated the official county municipal airport in 1975. Both developments proved to be invaluable to the future of Brunswick and the Golden Isles. Contributions to the local economy and population of Glynn County by the FLETC have had considerable impact and the 8,000-foot (2,400 m) jet runway has been an important community asset.
The Glynn County Airport Commission was established in 1980 to manage and develop new opportunities for both the Brunswick and St. Simons Island airports. Since that time, the Airport Commission has continued to improve service and facilities through a series of important upgrades and repairs. To more accurately reflect the destination for travelers and pilots, the Glynco Jetport was renamed Brunswick Golden Isles Airport in 2003. The elegant new passenger terminal, completed in 2005, reflects the local tradition of hospitality and welcome for passengers of scheduled carrier service. Other improvements, such as a new control tower in 2005, have encouraged the expansion of general aviation, charter airline and scheduled airline traffic as well.