News: Students travel cross country to MCAS Cherry Point to use station simulators
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Cherry Point’s Marine Aviation Training System Site, or MATSS, hosted 38 Marine and Naval aviation students Dec. 1-11.
The students of Electronic Attack Squadron 129, a training squadron at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., came to Cherry Point to conduct training with an EA-6B Prowler simulator at MATSS.
The students usually train with a simulator at NAS Whidbey Island, but it is currently under renovation so the students came to Cherry Point, which possesses the only other Prowler simulator.
“If the students wouldn’t have come here, they would have been behind the learning curve in becoming a Prowler pilot,” explained Wallace Simmons, the operations coordinator at Cherry Point MATSS.
Jeffrey C. Weber, a site manager at Cherry Point MATSS, said it would have taken the students a lot of time to make up missed time in the simulators.
“But by getting on a plane and flying out here, they didn’t miss a beat,” Weber added.
Capt. Michael Kempf, the officer in charge for VAQ-129, considered the trip a huge success.
“This trip gave us an opportunity to come to Cherry Point and get ahead,” said Kempf. “The personnel at Cherry Point took great care of us and facilitated a great experience.”
The MATSS employees regularly work with personnel from aboard the air station, but they were up for the challenge of something different.
“We tried to provide a comfortable training environment for the students,” said Weber. “They had full access to our learning center, and we felt we went above and beyond for them.”
The station’s Marine tactical electronic warfare squadrons also helped by fluctuating their schedules in the flight simulators to accommodate the student pilots, who accumulated more than 120 flight hours while at the air station.
“We really pulled together and showed what the Navy-Marine Corps team is all about,” said Simmons. “We were prepared to support those guys as long as they needed us.”
MATSS Cherry Point is operated by three civilian contractor companies, and they felt it took a team effort to assist the students.
“It showed a lot about us,” said Robert Q. Rainwater, a site manager at MATSS Cherry Point. “Everyone set their problems aside and accomplished the mission at hand.”