Coachman Inn, Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island

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About the Area

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station (Ault Field)

There is an interesting history surrounding Whidbey Island Naval Air Station near Oak Harbor, Washington on Whidbey Island, just a few minutes from the Coachman Inn.

It was in January of 1941, prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, that the Navy began looking for places that they could launch a defense of the Puget Sound, should that become necessary in the course of the emerging conflict.

Specifically, the Commandant of the 13th Naval District, headquartered in Bremerton, Washington from 1903 through 1980, was asked to pinpoint a location that would be good for re-arming and refueling and Navy planes that might need to be used for defense purposes.

Oak Harbor was among several sites rejected initially because of their mountainous terrain, inaccessibility, and absence of beaches. But shortly after, a spot of the Saratoga Passage on the Crescent Harbor shore won the approval of the Navy, and the construction began.

Construction of Ault Field began in March of 1942, and the first plane landed in August of that year, while construction continued on the runway and buildings. In September 1942 the base was officially put into operation, and a year later, in September of 1943, the base was renamed Ault Field in honor of CDR William Ault, who went missing in action in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

There have been a variety of squadrons with different missions stationed at Ault field over the years, however none of them have ever had the task initially envisioned as a possibility: fending foreign invaders away from the Puget Sound.

There is also a Search and Rescue unit at the station. The unit flew a UH-3H Sea King helicopter for many years. When it was retired due to age, it was replaced with an MH-60S Knighthawk and two UC-12 Hurons. These vehicles are used for supporting operations, airlifting, and fleet logistics support.

There are 19 squadrons on active duty at the base, along with 2 reserve squadrons. Ault Field acts as a training center for the Naval Air Reserve in the area as well as their center for operations.

The air base sometimes puts on delightful and impressive air shows.

The Naval Base is a significant part of the community in Oak Harbor, and the personnel make up a large portion of the economy in the Oak Harbor area, meaning there are plenty of shopping and dining opportunities for visitors as well. Visitors may tour the base with an appointment.

The friendly Coachman Inn front desk staff will gladly tell you more about the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station during your stay with them.

Before you check out the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, check into the nearby Coachman Inn, where we have been voted Best of Whidbey Island for two years running and awarded the AAA Three Diamond rating, their highest rating for vacation lodging. To check availability, call the Coachman now at 800-635-0043 or click here.

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