A somewhat fitting end

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, January 26, 2013

In the end, it was much ado about nothing.

The Navy’s search for a place to have its carrier based propeller planes conduct touch-and-go landings has ended where it should have began, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. And the Navy, by announcing it would begin training there this summer, brings to an anticlimactic end a two-year quest that caused significant controversy, many hard feelings and the end of at least one political career.

The shame is, it never should have come to that.

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The Navy has made a habit in recent years of leaving carnage in the wake of bungled attempts to secure training facilities outside of the metropolitan Hampton Roads region. An attempt early last decade to locate an outlying landing field for naval jets to practice in northeastern North Carolina resulted in a lawsuit and the Navy pulling the plug on the project.

A similar attempt in Western Tidewater five years ago led to stiff local opposition that partially caused the Navy to put its plans on hold indefinitely. The effort in 2011 to acquire the use of Franklin’s airfield was messy as well.

The Navy’s one consistent mistake, among many, was that it seemingly refused to look at options for using existing government and military facilities to expand its training operations. Opponents of each failed attempt suggested the Wallops as an option.

The Navy said it was unsuitable each time. A lot of time, money and energy were wasted only to find out that, in the end, it was suitable all along.