The Last Active F/A-18C Hornet From NAS Cecil Field Makes Its Final Flight

Oct 4, 2019

A piece of Jacksonville’s military history has completed its final mission.

The last Navy F/A-18C Hornet, aircraft number 300, made its final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana (Va.) on Wednesday.

The Hornet spent much of its service life in Jacksonville, where it was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Jacksonville’s former Naval Air Station Cecil Field.

NAS Cecil Field was decommissioned as a Navy base as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 1999.

Since then it has been repurposed for a variety of uses, including becoming the Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s Cecil Airport as well as the industrial park known as the Cecil Commerce Center.

The squadron, also known as the Gladiators, was moved to NAS Oceana.  The Hornet that flew for the final time Wednesday was with the Gladiators for its 31-years of service.

LT Andrew Jalali prepares for the final active-duty flight of the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana on Oct. 2.
Credit Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer / U.S. Navy

The aircraft took off from NAS Oceana accompanied by three F/A-18F Super Hornets for its final flight.

“Its technological innovation was continued on the F/A-18 E/F/G aircraft and helped the U.S. Navy transition from 4th to 5th generation aircraft,”  Command Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic Capt. Brian Becker said in a news release.

The Hornet will now be stripped of its usable parts and scrapped, according to the Navy.

Over 50 F/A-18 Hornets have been retired to various Navy Reserve and U.S. Marine aviation commands. Others are being preserved for future use if needed.

Aircraft number 300, assigned to VFA 106 at Cecil Field, completed it first Navy acceptance check flight on Oct. 14, 1988, according to the U.S. Navy.
Credit Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer / U.S. Navy

Both the F/A-18A and F/A-18C Hornet variants have been replaced by the updated F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.