News: Flying high to qualify, pilots land aboard aircraft carrier
Story by Pfc. Melissa Eschenbrenner
ABOARD USS NIMITZ – Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 trained for aircraft carrier landing qualification aboard USS Nimitz, Aug. 9-16.
The detachment allowed five days for six pilots to qualify trapping, which requires a pilot to land by dropping a tail hook of an F/A-18 Hornet and catching one of four wires across the landing deck which brings the aircraft to a stop.
Along with this training, pilots learn to take-off from catapults that send the aircraft to speeds greater than 150 mph in approximately two seconds.
“It’s pretty nerve-racking for new pilots,” said Severson. “Being able to land on an aircraft carrier is what makes Marine and Navy pilots some of the most qualified pilots in the world.”
Pilots must trap 10 times during the daytime and four times at night to become qualified for flight on an aircraft carrier. They also must complete touch-and-go’s, quick landings and take-offs from the runway.
During landing, the pilot never turns off the aircraft’s power. Jet pilots must be prepared to take off again in case they do not catch the wire. Only after the pilot has had confirmation that they have caught the wire, will they cut the power, explained Maj. Christopher T. Severson, a pilot with VMFAT-101, and a San Diego native.
Pilots with the ability to land aboard an aircraft carrier are highly qualified to defend the country when ever their services are needed, explained Severson.
This training is one of the final qualifications new pilots need to complete to become fully qualified to fly with a deployable F/A-18 squadron.