Tuesday, October 4, 2011
100 Years Of Naval Aviation
Part I: The West Coast’s only strike-fighter wing, Naval Air Station Lemoore, trains F/A-18 pilots for the runway at sea
|2 F/A-18 Simulator
After launching from MCAS Miramar, Plane & Pilot Publisher Mike McMann flies a high-speed pass over the San Diego area. F/A-18 pilots in training at NAS Lemoore will spend 12 hours with an aircrew instructor in a simulator before their first flight in the real aircraft.
Lieutenant Brant "Winthorp" Gresham, who's performing LSO duties, has something to say to everyone. "Too much power, come back on power." "Too high." "Too long." "Not enough power, add more power." He even waves a few passes off with red flashing lights. If that seems harsh for a group of naval aviators who are just two weeks away from the "runway at sea," that's because it has to be. On the open sea, landing on a carrier populated with thousands of people, there's no room for error. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, the LSO is going to have a comment," Winthorp explains. "We call a really good pass an 'okay' pass."
Naval aviators are known for being highly skilled and accomplished. Astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were both naval aviators. The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, thrills millions of fans each year with its unfathomably tight formations and high-performance aerobatics. In the second part of Plane & Pilot's Naval Aviation series, we'll go behind the scenes with the Blues during their winter training at Naval Air Facility El Centro.
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