NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- A pilot and maintainer assigned to the “Greyhawks” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 120 participated in Virtual Fleet Week New York live events, May 20.
The week, normally spent in New York City, will be conducted this year virtually on social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time the Navy has hosted the event in a virtual environment.
Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class (AW) Michael Helms, from Middletown, New York, participated in the live Facebook event to bring awareness to the important role maintainers have in working on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. Additionally, Helms has ties to the New York metropolitan area as well. His father, a firefighter with Fire Department New York (FDNY), is assigned to FDNY Ladder Truck 58 in the Bronx.
“I enjoy working on the new E-2D aircraft and seeing the technology grow,” he said, who has achieved a variety of qualifications since arriving to VAW-120 in September of 2018, including his Low Power Turn Operator qualification and he was placed in a supervisory role as leading petty officer of the Power Plans work center. “I look forward to the rest of my career and hope to one day become a Chief Petty Officer and continue to help junior Sailors grow. I am proud to be a New Yorker and a United States Navy Sailor.”
Helms, who had yet to participate in a live Fleet Week New York, said he was honored to be chosen to participate.
Virtual Fleet Week New York coincides with Aviation Maintenance Technician Day on May 24. In the U.S. Navy, there is a long and proud history between aircraft air crew and ground crew. And, while Helms works on the aircraft, Lt. David Carroll, who earned his naval aviation wings in 2014, flies the E-2D.
Carroll, a native of Nanuet, New York, currently serves as an instructor pilot, and the E-2D Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) Program Manager at VAW-120, the Navy’s only Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) for the E-2C, E-2D and C-2A.
“I was humbled to be a part of the initial Aerial Refueling instructor cadre and to be one of the two pilots fully certified across all tanker classes at the FRS,” he said.
The Aerial Refueling modified E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is another key component to the Carrier Air Wing of the future. Currently, the squadron’s E-2D AR instructor pilot cadre, to include Carroll and Lt. Michael Harrigan, also of VAW-120, are increasing proficiency and experience in preparation for training and transitioning the first fleet squadron later this summer.
In September of 2019, VAW-120 took delivery of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye with an aerial refueling capability that allowed for the achievement of this initial operational capability. VAW-120 marked a second milestone in the E-2D legacy in April of this year by achieving its 1,000th Aerial Refueling contact for the squadron. On May 11, VAW 120 successfully conducted the first fleet aerial refueling dry-plug between an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and an F/A-18F Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211.
VAW-120, the Norfolk-based FRS for both the E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound, is part of Airborne Command & Control and Logistics Wing and is tasked with providing aerial refueling initial qualifications for the operational E-2D fleet.