True story! Flying around Oceana meant you were privy to some pretty interesting conversations sometimes on the radio.
We were coming back from some air combat stuff out in the warning area and our radios were already up Oceana Tower, which controlled incoming aircraft once those aircraft were within a certain distance of the field. It seems there were some US Marine Corps helicopters flying up the coast from Cherry Point or somewhere and they needed vectors to get to the field. They were flying VFR – visual flight rules, so no flight plan was filed.
The controller at Oceana: “Delta Foxtrot 2-1, Oceana Tower. I have you 5 miles southeast of the field. Continue along the coastline and in about 3 miles you will see a large gorilla to your port side. Once you pass the gorilla, your vector will be 270 and you should have the field in sight.”
Delta Foxtrot 2-1: “Oceana Tower, Delta Foxtrot 2-1. Did you say a gorilla?”
Oceana Tower: “That is affirmative. A large gorilla. A theme park attraction”
Delta Foxtrot 2-1: “2-1 copies. Left 270 at the gorilla”.
A few minutes later, a flight of Tomcats ahead of us had switched up tower and the NORMAL approach request to the break (overhead) would have been something like “Tower, Taproom 104, flight of two, 10 miles east for the break”. Instead, the lead RIO keyed his radio and said: “Tower, Taproom 104, flight of two, we’d like the Gorilla approach to the break, a touch and go, and an elephant downwind to a full stop”.
That gorilla has been there a long time, and I know they are at least on ver. 2.0 of the thing. In Jan 1989 when we were in the Med and our sister squadron, VF-32, shot down 2 Libyan Migs, a few days later vandals set fire to the gorilla, and even though he was concrete his painted exterior fed the fire and damaged the beast. Wags talked about Libyan terrorists doing the deed, but everyone moved on and a new champion chimp was built.
The two pics are of the monster monkey, one I took when I was down on reserve duty and the other a screen shot from Google Earth, showing the gargantuan gibbon still there! Not certain he is a NAVAID anymore, but cest la vie!