Sunday, August 05, 2012

Training Pilots Qualify Aboard Truman

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Lorenzo J. Burleson, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from pilot training squadrons (VT) embarked the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to begin carrier qualifications Aug. 3.

Junior pilots from the Eagles of VT-7, the Tigers of VT-9, Redhawks of VT-21 and the Golden Eagles of VT-22 are required to complete four touch-and-gos and 10 arrested landings in the T-45C Goshawk, a Navy tactical jet trainer.

"This is the final step for the student pilots before they are fleet-ready aviators," said Lt. Cody A. Dowd, instructor in VT-22. "In this testing phase, we grade the young pilots' abilities to take-off, land and maneuver around an aircraft carrier."

Dowd said the pilots must prove they are proficient in performing flight and landing procedures.

"Instructors will also train pilots to respond to signals, identify errors, and taxi aircraft. The pilots are closer to flying more advanced aircraft once they have shown the ability to perform the requirements."

Dowd said these are the training pilots' first carrier landings. Prior to embarking Truman, all the pilots' aviation training has been land-based.

"Landing on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean is difficult to replicate when ashore," said Dowd. "The most challenging aspect is keeping your nerve. It is important for the pilots to trust their abilities and remember they have to train for this their entire careers."

Approximately 550 total arrested landings must be achieved during the training pilots' qualification, said Cmdr. Paul Crump, Truman's air officer. With so many, keeping the pilots and flight deck crew safe is a major focus.

"Safety is always the number one priority," said Crump. "To ensure safe practices, the students will only perform daytime flight operations."

Truman is doing its part to help qualify Sailors, said Crump.

"Truman is making sure we add 38 new qualified aviators to the fleet," said Crump. "It's all about providing services to the training command and ensuring they complete their mission."