USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) recently got underway conducting training carrier qualifications for 40 student pilots, who are making their first landings on an aircraft carrier.
Operating out of Jacksonville, Fla., pilots participated in the evolution in groups of four planes at a time, as they look to complete this phase of training.
According to Cmdr. Bob Cady, Truman's air boss, the qualification requires that the pilots successfully complete 10 arrested landings and four touch-and-go's.
"The first landing wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," said Marine 1st Lt. Seth Schurtz from the "Eagles" of Training Squadron 7. "The ship looked really small, but it was running so well that you guys made it easy on me."
"This is one of the last things that they do before they are winged," said Cady. "After they get their wings, they will be ready to go out into the fleet."
When a pilot gets winged, they are designated naval aviators and will no longer be considered students.
This training is the culmination of two years of intense training at flight school said Cady.
"This is a very hard job," said Schurtz. "There is a lot of hard work and studying in becoming a pilot, so I take a lot of pride in this."
The pilots were not the only ones who worked hard to conduct these qualifications. Truman's crew on the flight deck had to put in the hours as well.
"What is important here is that these guys complete their qualifications," said Cady. "Our ability to do this safely and efficiently is a direct reflection on the crew and our training on board Truman."
"The Truman crew was very professional," said Schurtz. "I have no complaints with the crew on the ship."
Because these pilots are landing on a carrier for the first time, the pace of recoveries was slowed somewhat.
"We do everything at about 75 percent of the speed that would be expected with fleet pilots," said Cady. "The slower pace allows for the trainees to get a feel for landing on an aircraft carrier."
Big swells as a result of Hurricane Bill have impacted the evolution.
"The first day was a real challenge with the sea state from Hurricane Bill," said Cady. "We did not get as much as we wanted to get done, because the [flight deck] was moving up and down."
Landing on an aircraft carrier provides the students with a firsthand experience of what they have been training to do.
"It was definitely more challenging than something back home, because the winds were different and obviously the ship is moving," said Schurtz.
This qualification provides the pilots with an experience they can take with them for the rest of their Navy career.
"It is a pretty awesome experience," said Cady. "Every naval aviator that flies off a carrier has to go through this process. Guys like the XO [Executive Officer], CO [Commanding Officer] and me, did this 20 years ago. We remember exactly what it is like being in these guys' shoes and landing on an aircraft carrier for the very first time."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.