OCALA NATIONAL FOREST, FL — Every so often, visitors to Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest are startled by the shriek of low-flying military jets overhead. Little do they realize that the Navy F/A-18 Hornets may be bombing a mock-up desert village and runway just a couple of miles to the south.
The isolated, 5,700-acre Pinecastle Bombing Range has been used for military exercises since World War II. Few see it from ground level, but from above it looks like a giant crop circle of geometric shapes that include full-size military targets such as tanks, SAM missile batteries, vehicle convoys, airplanes, radar installations and residential buildings.
Each year about 20,000 bombs are dropped at the Pinecastle Bombing Range. Most are inert, but a few hundred are live. The range is located two miles west of SR 19, the nearest paved road.
Photos: Michael Warren