News: No barriers to landing on carriers
Story by Lance Cpl. Martin Egnash
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 Marines conducted field carrier landing practice throughout last week in preparation for future work with aircraft carriers to take place during Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 in January and February.
HMH-461 will be working on an aircraft carrier during the exercise near the end of January. Until then, pilots and crew chiefs will be practicing taking off and landing on a narrow landing strip that simulates what it will be like on an aircraft carrier.
During the training, pilots rotated flying over the water near Stone Bay and landing on the narrow runway resembling the deck of an aircraft carrier onshore. Both the pilots and crew chiefs used commands and signals to prepare themselves for working on a ship.
“This training helps Marines get an idea of what it’s going to be like landing on a carrier,” said Maj. Brian T. Laurence, assistant operations officer with HMH-461. “It’s not as much room to work with, but being amphibious is what the Marine Corps is all about.”
According to Laurence, the field carrier landing practice flights are generally four hours long, and unlike most flights, the CH-53E Super Stallion will be flying with five pilots and six crew chiefs.
“We’re training 20 pilots and up to 35 crew chiefs this week,” said Laurence. “This is the squadron’s top priority right now. We want to show that HMH-461 is ready to take on the amphibious heavy-lifting role.”
The four-hour flights were done day and night to better prepare the Marines for any conditions they might encounter.
“We train to do most of our flights at night because often times that’s when we’re needed the most,” said Laurence.
When HMH-461 finishes with the field carrier landing practice, they will begin the carrier qualification period in January.
“This training is really the stepping stone for utilizing HMH-461 on an aircraft carrier this winter,” said Laurence. “After that we have Exercise Bold Alligator.”
Exercise Bold Alligator is a Navy-Marine Corps exercise focused on amphibious operations taking place on the east coast. A small detachment from HMH-461 will deploy from the ship to the Horn of Africa in a separate operation.
“Exercise Bold Alligator is a re-affirmation of amphibious warfare doctrine and roots,” said Laurence.
With this training behind them, the Marines of HMH-461 said they look forward to the next step of their journey.