Welcome to Naval Air Station Whiting Field (NASWF) as we celebrate 75 years of Naval Aviation training. Since 1943, NASWF has been at the forefront of producing aviation warfighters for the fleet, and that mission is as important today as it was at the founding of the installation during World War II.
Although not physically the largest of bases, NASWF has an impressive footprint spanning 5 counties across two states in the Gulf Coast. With 12 Navy Outlying Landing Fields (NOLFs), we maintain control of over 51% of the Navy’s inventory of landing fields and work within an airspace of more than 4,500 nautical miles. Coordinating with Training Air Wing FIVE (TW-5), the Navy’s largest training wing, we comprise the busiest aviation complex in the world. At NASWF, TRAWING 5 trains roughly 60 percent of all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard student naval aviators in primary flight training and 100 percent of all student helicopter pilots (from the three maritime services) in advanced flight training, where they ultimately earn their Wings of Gold at our installation.
Our combined mission is to help produce the military’s finest “Aviation Warfighters,” and NASWF does that by providing quality installation facilities and operational services that are unsurpassed in the Navy. Our two primary airfields and 12 outlying landing fields enabled TRAWING 5 to fly more than 1.2 million flight operations in 2017 comprising more than 16 percent of all Navy flight hours flown worldwide. To put that in perspective, Atlanta-Hartsfield, the busiest civilian airport in the world, flew about 900,000 flight operations last year. We may not be the biggest or the most well-known of the Navy’s shore installations, but we are one of the best and most important bases on which you will ever serve.
The people here in Santa Rosa County are some of the most caring and military-friendly residents in the country, and they are incredibly supportive and are as proud of the mission of NASWF as we are. The county has one of the greatest concentrations of military retirees in the nation, and this area understands and appreciates military service more than most duty stations. Santa Rosa County is tireless in their efforts to protect the mission of our installation, and our encroachment partnering programs are considered the model for all other installation/community teams to copy. That partnership was recognized by the Association of Defense Communities as NASWF was named their Installation Excellence Award winner for 2018 from all the military services. Additionally, the Military Appreciation Picnic put on each May by the Chamber of Commerce is one of the highlights of the year.
With such a supportive community, we are enthusiastic about our opportunities to give back. Sailors and civilians from the base annually provide nearly 20,000 hours of volunteer service to our local communities. They helped an uncountable number of people through participation in food drives, volunteer fire departments, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, social action groups, volunteer work to the elderly, youth programs and so much more. I couldn’t be more proud of their generous spirit and giving attitudes. Our team here is truly the finest group of civilian and military service members with whom I have ever served.
The Whiting Field team performs at an exceptionally high level, and its members are regularly recognized for their outstanding achievements. Just within the past couple of years, NASWF was recognized as the 2015, 2016 and 2018 Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Installation Excellence Awards recipient as the best small installation in the Navy and with the USS Bainbridge Award in 2016 for community service. So far in the last year, the installation has earned awards from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for water quality and environmental stewardship, the Navy Region Southeast Safety Award, recognition from the Chief of Naval Information, the Zumwalt Award for hospitality management, the Golden Anchor Award and many others. Our Child Development Center and Gateway Inn and Suites renewed their accreditations, and the base is annually recognized as Storm Ready by the National Oceanographic and Aerospace Association. We also just celebrated our 26th year as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Unlike many other military installations, NASWF is truly located in a rural area. We are approximately 45 minutes from Pensacola and about eight miles north of Milton, Florida. If you enjoy nature, then we have the best of both worlds for you. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are only a half-hour ride away while freshwater rivers and forests are even closer. Our Whiting Park facility on the Blackwater River is certainly a site you will want to get to know well. Additionally, the schools in Santa Rosa County are some of the finest in Florida and host some of the best programs in the country to help military families cope with the stresses of moving to a new area.
The men and women of NASWF welcome you to our extended family, and I certainly hope you will look back on your time here and see it as one of the highlights of your career, as I do for mine.