NO-OLF supporters and officials from Beaufort and Washington counties will hold a rally May 16 at the N.C. State Capitol Building's south lawn in Raleigh. The rally will feature speeches by Congressman G.K. Butterfield, state dignitaries and rally organizers.

The rally begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at noon. NO-OLF had a permit to hold the rally at noon, but Secretary of State Elaine Marshall allowed an earlier start because a beach music festival, featuring the Embers band, begins at the same site at noon.

"We hope to have the Embers sing the national anthem at our rally's start," said Brian Roth, former Navy pilot, NO-OLF supporter and mayor of Plymouth.

The NO-OLF group is battling the U.S. Navy's plans to take 33,000 acres of land in the two eastern N.C. counties in order to build an Outlying Landing Field for F/A-18 Super Hornet carrier jets based at Oceana Naval Air Station near Norfolk, Va. Local residents in Virginia have complained for years about the excessive noise created by the jets that practice landings at the Virginia OLF, nearby Fentress Air Station.

The Navy wants to evict 74 families from their Beaufort/Washington farm lands, then stop the planting of crops that attract tens of thousands of waterfowl to the region each winter and early spring. Navy officials, although having said they can handle waterfowl in the flight paths of the jets, nonetheless want to prevent crop growing that would attract ducks, geese and swans to private land surrounding Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Critics of the Navy's plans note more than 30,000 touch-and-go practice landings, carried out night and day, would drive waterfowl away from the area. Wildlife conservationists have said such jet flights would put added stress on waterfowl, which migrate thousands of miles from Alaska and Canada and other northern areas to spend the winter at the refuge. County officials also worry about taking that much land from their tax bases at regions that are among the poorest in per capita income in the state, plus the eviction of families.

Lawsuits have been filed against the Navy by the counties and several wildlife conservation groups. A succession of federal court decisions have gone in favor of the counties and conservation groups, including injunctions, against the Navy. NO-OLF has said it doesn't oppose an OLF at other less-environmentally crucial sites in eastern North Carolina.

The Navy's highest officials, however, have said they still are focused on the Beaufort-Washington site and are basically ignoring 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rulings and a federal judge's decisions ordering the service branch to seek a less-controversial site for the landing strip.