Strike Fighter Squadron ONE TWENTY TWO [VFA-122]
VFA-122 was reestablished under the command of CDR Mark Fox on January 15, 1999. VFA-122 continues the Flying Eagle tradition of training Naval Avaitors. Located in Hangar Four at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Califirnia, just south of Fresno in the central San Joaquin Valley, the Flying Eagles of VA-122 were tasked with training fleet replacement pilots and maintenance personnel for all operational A-7E Corsair squadrons under both CINCLANTFLT and CINCPACFLT command.
Established at NAS San Diego as Composite Squadron THIRTY FIVE (VC-35) on 25 May 1950, the unit had the mission of all-weather attack and ASW. The squadron trained detachments for carrier deployments and also participated in various exercises held on the west coast. From 09 November 1950 through 09 June 1951 VC-35 Det 3 was the squadrons first detachment to deploy. It deployed to Korea and flew ASW patrols, night heckler missions and other combat sorties. These became the standard missions for the squadron detachments that deployed to Korea.
The squadron was redesignated Attack Squadron (All Weather) THIRTY FIVE (VA(AW)-35) on 1 July 1956. On 30 June 1959 at NAS Moffet Field, it was again redesignated Attack Squadron ONE TWENTY TWO (VA-122), becoming a component of Readiness Attack Carrier Air Wing Twelve. The squadron's mission was changed from all weather attack to fleet replacement training. It was responsible for insturment flight training for fleet prop pilots, including ground school; enlisted ground training for Skyraider maintenance personnel; and the training of fleet replacement pilots for the AD-6/7 Skyraider. Known as the "Spad School", the squadron trained pilots and maintenance technicians for the A-1 Skyraider. From June-August 1960 the squadron trained eight officers from the South Vietnamese Air Force in the operation of the AD Skyraider. In 1961 the squadron moved to NAS Lemoore.
Introduction of the Vought Aeronautical Division's new, single seat, fan jet A-7 Corsair II to naval air operations in 1966 began another era for VA-122. In November 1966, with the acceptance of the A-7A Corsair II, the squadron took on the additional mission of fleet replacement training in this new aircraft. The familiar "Spad School" shingle and large propeller were removed and replaced with a "Corsair College" placard in 1967. In 1967 VA-147 was the first squadron to be trained in the A-7 by VA-122. The first A-7A pilots and maintenance personnel, trained by VA-122's sister squadron -- the VA-125 Rough Raiders -- reported to the VA-147 Argonauts in 1967. They deployed aboard the USS RANGER (CV-61) to Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam for the maiden A-7 voyage, becoming Corsair II plank owners in the process.
In 1969, VA-122 received the first A-7E Corsair II, which quickly became known as the "Main Battery" of the fleet. The earlier models of the A-7, the A/B, were transfered to the Rough Raiders. In December 1969 the squadron joined with VA-125 to inaugurate a graduate level Light Attack Weapons School which involved three intensive weeks of classroom and flight syllabus training covering all phases of attack aviation. In 1971, following a squadron reorganization, Corsair College" became the "Flying Eagles". On 15 October 1973 VA-122's Weapon Training Center, which conducted the Light Attack Weapons School, became a separate command and was designated Light Attack Weapons School, Pacific.
By 1977 all the early varients had been phased out in favor of the A-7E. In 1978, the Flying Eagles received their first TA-7C, dual seat training version of the current A-7E. A-7E Instructor Pilots trained new and returning naval aviators in the light attack mission. Their syllabus encompassed aircraft familiarization, weapons delivery training and carrier qualification. Training facilities at NAS Fallon, NV, NAF El Centro, CA and Mountain Home AFB, ID were utilized for weapons detachments, along with east and west coast CVs fot carrier qualifications. The FRAMP Department instructed enlisted maintenance personnel from all aviation ratings and communities.
On 30 June 1988, with the disestablishment of VA-174 [the east coast Fleet Readiness Squadron for the A-7], VA-122 assumed the responsibility for A-7 training on both coasts.
The final two fleet squadrons, VA-46 and VA-72, completed the last A-7E deployment aboard USS John F. Kennedy in 1991 as a component of operation DESERT STORM. These two squadrons, manned by pilots and maintenance personnel trained by VA-122, once again demonstrated the outstanding combat capability of the Corsair II. Throughout its long and illustrious history this squadron provided the backbone of the Navy's carrier based striking power. Attack Squadron 122 graduated over 5,000 light attack pilots and over 55,000 highly skilled maintenance personnel.
VA-122 was disestablished on 31 May 1991. As of May 1991, prior to VA-122's disestablishment, it had trained and graduated over 5,000 light attack pilots and over 55,000 highly skilled maintenance personnel during its career as a fleet replacement training squadron.
VFA-122 was reestablished on 15 January 1999.
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