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Boxer Participates in Wind Envelope Testing

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050915-10
Release Date: 9/15/2005 3:17:00 PM

By Lithographer’s Mate Seaman Jessica R. Vargas, USS Boxer Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BOXER (NNS) -- Two CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters, along with eight personnel from Naval Rotary Wing Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21, completed first phase of wind envelope testing aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) (the "Golden Gator"), off the coast of Hawaii Sept. 5.

Wind envelope testing is designed to obtain and record various wind parameters and directions during flight operations. The information recorded is used to ensure safe take-offs, landings and controllability of the Sea Stallion during future operations aboard amphibious assault ships like Boxer.

This is the first time Sea Stallions have performed wind envelope tests on an LHD-class ship. While the CH-53E Super Stallion was designed to operate aboard amphibious assault ships, CH-53D Sea Stallions are also currently being deployed to Iraq, necessitating tests on those aircraft as well.

“The information we gather during the wind envelope tests will increase the operation capabilities of LHD-class ships,” said Boxer’s Air Operations Officer, Maj. Timothy R. Gabriel. “This test ensures Boxer crew and pilots are prepared for and can still perform flight operations at the safest level when there is an unexpected change in wind speed and direction.”

Wind tests require very close involvement and communication from many different crew members aboard the “Golden Gator,” from the helmsman on the bridge to air traffic controllers in the ship’s Helicopter Direction Center.

“Our crew and the squadron members fused together well for this evolution,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Richard Ferguson, of Miami, Fla. “The communication for this test was flawless. This level of professionalism made this whole test run go smoothly for all involved.”

With safety being one of the most important aspects of naval and air operations, evolutions such as air envelope testing help ensure that all aspects of naval missions are done safely and proficiently.

“This evolution required close focus in all areas of the test,” said Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Derick Hopson, of Los Angeles, Calif. “Mistakes noticed now save lives later.”

HX-21 is based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and performs developmental flight testing, including aircraft flying qualities, aircraft performance and aircraft systems testing.

“Boxer’s crew merged with us to form a perfect team for this testing,” said Maj. Henry Vanderborght, HX-21 Marine test pilot, Patuxent River, Md. "Whenever something unprecedented is being done, it helps to have professionals at the helm.

Boxer, the fourth of seven ships in the Wasp class of large-deck amphibious assault ships, will return to its homeport of San Diego in September.

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