USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The commanding officer of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31 became a member of an elite club after successfully completing his 1,000th carrier arrested landing aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on Aug. 4.
Cmdr. Muhammad Muzzafar F. Khan landed aboard Stennis while transiting the Western Pacific Ocean en route to participate in Exercise Valiant Shield 2007.
"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a pilot," said Khan. "I've flown on nine different carriers, in two types of aircraft, and it's always such a phenomenal experience. From the catapult shot to the trap itself, it's exhilarating," said Khan.
Being able to land a 50,000-pound aircraft traveling more than 120 knots on a small moving runway one time is an incredible feat; however, performing that same task 1,000 times is something to celebrate.
Since his first carrier arrested landing 14 years ago, Khan has accumulated more than 3,600 flight hours.
"In 1993, I was on my first carrier, and the commanding officer achieved his 1,000th trap," said Khan, who has been deployed aboard Stennis since January. "I decided then that was something I'd like to do."
For many naval aviators, achieving 1,000 arrested landings marks an important milestone in their career, and is something few achieve.
As Khan exited the S-3 Viking, he shared his achievement with the many aircrew and maintenance personnel who gathered to congratulate him upon arrival.
Khan said that his success is just a by-product of the dedicated people who are passionate about what they love and do, the men and women of naval aviation.
"I could not have done this without the maintenance personnel; they are the heart of naval aviation," said Khan. "It's their hard work and skill that ensure the aircraft are as safe and reliable as they are."
As a child in Pakistan, Khan grew up around aviation. His father served in the Pakistani Air Force for 21 years.
Khan came to the United States from Pakistan in 1981 and joined the Navy 20 years ago. Not only has he fulfilled his childhood dream of being an aviator, but he commands an aviation squadron responsible for six aircraft and more than 200 people.
"I have completed 20 years, and I absolutely love the Navy," said Khan. "I'm still having a lot of fun, and I don't see myself getting out anytime soon. I love it, I enjoy it and I feel extremely privileged to be an American serving in the United States Navy."
Asked what he hopes to achieve down the road in terms of his career, Khan smiled. "The sky is the limit."
The "Topcats" of VS 31 are assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, embarked aboard Stennis, and currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
Stennis' presence in the Western Pacific demonstrates the U.S. commitment to fulfilling treaty obligations and security arrangements in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR. Stennis and its strike group will remain postured to render aid in the region if needed, in support of Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet's goal of delivering responsive, short-term readiness.
For more news from USS John C. Stennis, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.