Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Wood, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
OAK HARBOR, Wash. – The sight of aircraft flying overhead is not uncommon on Whidbey Island, but on Saturday, June 24, the general public got to see the source of these aircraft.
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) hosted its annual open house for the 75th anniversary of the base and anyone interested was invited out to see the Navy’s aircraft up close and personal.
NASWI began the event with a 5k run along the flight line and set up various aircraft static displays such as the P-3C Orion aircraft, an MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter, the new C-40 Clipper and the P-8A Poseidon. Other visual displays were present along with guided bus tours, bouncy toys for children and a climbing wall. The crowd was even treated by the attendance of older, historic aircraft from the World War II era.
“Our museum, the Historic Flight Foundation, is doing a series of flights to all Navy bases in the Western Washington area,” said Historic Flight Foundation Volunteer Mechanic Rob Otero, while showcasing one of the museum’s historic aircraft, the Grumman TBM-3E Avenger.
Otero was ecstatic about being invited to come and share his abiding love for aircraft of all kind.
“I’m a mechanic on airplanes. I have been for 47 years. I worked on my first airplane when I was 14. This is my forte.”
Adults and children alike all seemed to be fascinated by the display of aircraft.
“I love the birds,” said Gary Magdalik, an aircraft systems integration technician and ardent photographer of all machines that fly. “I’m a Navy veteran and I’ve been shooting aircraft for a lot of my life. When I was growing up there were DC-3s flying around. I’ve been into airplanes forever.”
Magdalik looked around and couldn’t help but comment on how lucky the pilots were to be able to fly these aircraft. He also mentioned his prior employment at NASWI back in 2005 through 2006.
“I love coming here, really do. It’s a great place. Look at the view.”
Magdalik seemed to be right as the flight line was filled with onlookers to witness the flyover by NASWI’s new P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Everyone was quiet as the plane flew by. It was a common sight on the island, but to see it up close, considering the large crowd turnout, made all the difference.