The Gate at Moffett Field circa 1933
Naval Air Station Moffett Field Commissioned in 1933
The Naval Air Station was commissioned "NAS Sunnyvale" in 1933. Several days later the landing field at NAS Sunnyvale was named "Moffett Field," in honor of RAdm. W.A. Moffett who had died in the crash of the USS Macon's sister ship, USS Akron. It was the Navy's practice (as it is now) to name the landing fields at their air stations (which are normally named for places) for individuals, who have by virtue of heroism or significant contribution, furthered Naval Aviation in some manner. So, "Moffett Field" became the landing field at NAS Sunnyvale.
The 1,000-acre site for the air base was purchased by Bay Area communities and sold to the military in 1931 for one dollar.
P-3V Orion's Come to Moffett Field
Nineteen-hundred sixty-two was an important year for Moffett Field. The Navy was relocating Moffett's jet squadrons to a new air station at Lemoore, in a remote section of the San Joaquin Valley. There was much speculation as to the future of Moffett Field.
Then came the announcement that Moffett Field was selected as the site of introduction on the west coast for the Navy's newest, fastest and most effective submarine hunter-killer aircraft, the P-3V Orion.
Two models later, the four-engine P-3's still fly from Moffett Field's runway, deploy to the far reaches of the Pacific. While most of Moffett's personnel are familiar with the outstanding performance of the P-3, there are other less noticed roles the sub-hunter has assumed the last 35 years.
While search and rescue is not the main mission of Moffett's P-3's, they have been called on to save over 600 men, women and children from sinking merchant vessels, adrift sailboats and lost fishing boats, and also refugees.
A natural disaster is a traumatic event, and relief is critical for survival. Moffett's squadrons responded to the earthquake in Alaska in 1964, Hurricane Camille in 1969, a food shortage in the Philippines in 1972, and the need for food in Agrihan and Alamagan Islands in 1975. 35 years of outstanding performance by naval personnel are celebrated, as they have made the P-3 Orion a legend in its own time. Its not just the performance of the airplane by the performance of Moffett's outstanding sailors.