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Atsugi Squadrons Train on Iwo To

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071019-06
Release Date: 10/19/2007 12:01:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gabriel S. Weber, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det., Japan

IWO TO, Japan (NNS) -- Forward-deployed Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 naval aviators honed their skills during field carrier landing practice (FCLP) Oct. 16 on the island of Iwo To.

Multiple squadrons from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan worked through the day and into the evening performing touch and go flight maneuvers on the island formerly known as Iwo Jima. These drills allow Navy pilots to stay current in the skills required to land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier while at sea.

“It’s a way for pilots to practice carrier landings without actually having to be on the boat,” said Lt. Caleb McDow, an FA-18/F pilot for the “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA)102. “It’s more efficient because we can do it here at the field without having to be out on the boat and it’s safer, especially for new pilots that haven’t been out to the boat before.”

FCLP drills are required for each pilot who has not landed aboard an aircraft carrier within 30 days, said McDow.

“Landing on the carrier is a pretty challenging thing to do, and the way that pilots get better at it is repetition, just doing it over and over again,” he said. “So whenever we’ve been off the carrier for a little while, it’s good to go and practice just so we get back into the swing of things and get used to the mechanics of landing.”

“This is just a refresher,” said Lt. Mike Kinter, an FA-18/E pilot for VFA-27, known as the “Royal Maces.” “These pilots need to keep their skills refreshed. Even a couple weeks out of the cockpit and you start to get a little rusty, get a little behind the jet.”

Due to the high degree of precision required, pilots view the training as an essential part of maintaining the skill sets required to perform their duties while at sea.

“We go to Iwo Jima and we pretty much leave no stone unturned as far as how much practice we can get and how many landings we can get,” said McDow. “Every landing that we make is going to make a pilot better at making that landing.”

“It’s definitely a necessity,” added Kinter. “For [carrier] operations you definitely want to be on top of your game.”

McDow also said that the focus on repetition helps to ensure the safety of all those involved with carrier flight operations.

“We say that we are going to train to this to be the absolute best we can be at landing on a carrier,” McDow said. “We want to be safe, that’s really the number one thing. Around the carrier we want to operate safely. Landing safely on the boat is a product of all the practice that we do.”

VFA-102 and VFA-27 are part of CVW-5. As the Navy’s only foward-deployed air wing in the world, CVW-5 consists of eight squadrons and one detachment.

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