Capt. Dale reflects on first months here

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Capt. Dale reflects on first months hereJust a few months after accepting command of Naval Air Weapons Station, Capt. Paul Dale is neck-deep in improvement projects, inspections, fleet-readiness drills — and the first major air show to come to China Lake in decades.

“It has definitely been an exciting time,” he said.

Hailing from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minn., Dale says his Naval career was sparked by a chance encounter with a pamphlet in his high-school guidance counselor’s office. “At the beginning, I thought it might be a way to pay for college … but here I am, 20-plus years later.”

Dale started in the surface fleet as an engineer before getting his Naval Flight Officer wings. In the last 15 years he has flown into the ranges many times, and developed relationships with the scientists and engineers he has worked with over the years.

Subsequently, when asked to rank Navy 22 installations for his first command as an O6, China Lake came out on top. “Fortunately, that’s where I was assigned. So we are excited about that.”

Dale’s wife moved here first with their two daughters, and he followed a few months later.

“This is my first opportunity to get into the world of installations and facilities,” he said. One of the first things he learned is that, while the challenges of maintaining infrastructure are virtually unlimited, time and resources are not.

“So with our limited resources, we are just working on getting the most bang for our buck.”

Among his priorities, he said, is protecting the longterm viability of the runways — the gateway to China Lake’s premiere air space.

Dale reported that NAWS just completed a repair on an intersection, bringing one of the runways back into play. A repair on another runway will begin in May.

“Another project we are pushing for is to take the existing construct of the airfield to extend one of the runways,” he said. That addition, along with a reconfiguration of tarmac and taxi flow, will allow for a much-needed increase in the current capacity.

“Aside from that, we have lots of projects in the hopper — some beautification projects, some demolition projects, and a slew of minor construction. Work that basically requires a lot of time and patience.”

In terms of community outreach, Dale has worked to stay engaged with the community, and said that NAWS continues to have a robust program to allow visitor access.

Among the attractions open to community badgeholders are the golf course, China Lake Museum, All Faith Chapel, WACOM Thrift Shop and several recreational facilities that host youth sports.

Dale said that when he is not working, he is enjoying getting to know the local area. So far, he and his family have visited Little Petroglyph Canyon, Whiskey Flat Days in Kernville and the Lone Pine Film Museum.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Pinnacles and the Trail of 1,000 Giants,” he said.

When Dale is not visiting the local sights, he said he likes exploring — and spending money in — the local community. “And of course I’m also very supportive of our local golf course. I use that whenever I can!”

Pictured: Capt. Paul Dale (left) accepts command of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake from Rear Adm. Yancy Lindsey of Navy Region Southwest. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-03-17