Excerpt From A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich
My next conversation was with an electric pole construction crew. The causeway was so narrow that a person couldn’t help but bump into them. They had lots of questions and were all ears to hear my story of starting from Georgia.
Big Coppitt Key, and about a mile further, I crossed a two-fifths of a mile bridge over Rockland Channel and I was on Boca Chica Key. I could already see the Navy planes taking off and landing from the big naval air station.
I could also see three blimps in the background. The Hawkeye aircraft carrier radar planes with large disks on the top were coming and going. To a novice like me, it appeared that they were practicing takeoffs and landings. These aircraft provided all-weather airborne early warning. They also had many advanced capabilities that supported aircraft carrier groups.
This particular naval base was started in 1940 when Monroe County gave the U. S. Army Air Corps a county airport on Boca Chica Key for fixed-wing aircraft. It was later transferred to the U. S. Navy and became part of Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West. Today it is a training facility with the latest and best equipment and facilities. It is used for training by air-to-air combat fighter aircraft of all the military services. The weather here is almost perfect for flying year round. Since it is in the Atlantic and Gulf, aircrews can begin training as soon as they get airborne.
I came to a “Share The Ride” location where some Navy guys were waiting for a ride into Key West. I stopped and joked with them, that they could share the ride with me, but it was a long walk. I kidded them about going AWOL (absent without leave). When they learned that I had been in the United States Army just a year and one half ago, we got along real fine. They all said that they would rather “Fly Navy” than walk. I wished the guys good luck.
About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or Amazon.com