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Truman Helps Train Future Pilots

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110202-10

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kristina Young, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Pilots from five Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRSs) embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), began the final stage of their pilot training, Jan. 27

The pilots have conducted more than 800 launch-and-recovery cycles since they embarked Truman and are meeting specific standards and qualifications to become carrier-qualified (CQ) pilots.

Pilots from "The Gladiators" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106; "The Rawhides" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40; "The Vikings" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129; "The Flying Eagles" of VFA-122; and "The Greyhawks" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120, spent five days working toward their carrier qualifications.

"These are all fleet replacement pilots," said Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate (AW/SW) Michael Collins. "Before these pilots move on to fleet readiness squadrons, they have to complete this training. Upon graduating, they'll go to regular air wing squadrons; ready to fly over the beaches."

Helping these new pilots along the way to their success are qualified instructor pilots who are ready to pass their knowledge on to the trainees.

"The CQ phase is the pinnacle of their training," said Marine Capt. Brad Byers, VFA-106 FRS instructor. "We test their ability to get aboard safely both day and night, and they've been doing a great job out here. Truman's crew has certainly helped speed up the process of getting the pilots qualified efficiently. They did a great job throughout the entire evolution."

"The actual CQ process starts four-to-five weeks before we come out here," said Lt. j.g. James Gilbert, VFA-106 FRS pilot. "The boat is a completely different animal. Instructors did a great job ensuring our transition from shore to ship was as smooth as possible. Conducting flight operations on a ship is the most challenging part of being a carrier pilot, so the training we received on shore was invaluable."

Truman was chosen because it was best able to provide the squadrons with necessary resources.

"With Truman coming fresh off a deployment, the flight deck is still fully-qualified," said Collins. "Because of that, we're able to provide the requisite training, as well as the environment needed by each squadron to complete their final qualifications."

"The squadrons have been exceeding our expectations," said Lt. Cmdr. Rodney Moss, USS Harry S. Truman aircraft handling officer. "The flight deck is operating at cruise rate. By taking care of the new pilots, we have already formed that cohesive bond that we need to operate at this level. Everything has gelled together smoothly, and we are taking care of business safely, efficiently and effectively."

It generally takes up to three days per squadron for pilots to achieve the necessary requirements to qualify. For each fixed wing squadron, more than 300 launches and recoveries must be completed.

"I feel we have accomplished our mission," said Collins. "This entire evolution was a team effort, and the air wing couldn't have done it without Truman. The crew has been extremely good at helping us to achieve our goal this underway period."

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