NAS PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy Helicopter Landing Trainer (HLT) IX-514 drove home another milestone, as a TH-57 from Helicopter Training Squadron (HT) 8 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field achieved the 100,000th accident-free landing Aug. 25 in Pensacola Bay.
As part of a routine training vessel for Helicopter Squadrons HT-8 and HT-18, the 134-foot vessel is a cost-effective way to provide a realistic training environment to student aviators for single-spot landing qualifications.
"I think it's a wonderful chance and opportunity," Capt. Bob Yost, the boat's master, said. "It's the only one in the Navy. I'm proud that Metson chose me for the job."
Metson Marine Services contracts employees to operate the vessel.
Student pilot Lt. j.g. David Dostal from HT-8 and instructor Lt. Teresa Ferry had the honor of landing the historical event.
"I knew something was going to happen, but I didn't know which landing was going to be the 100,000th," Dostal said, who has two flights left before being "winged" or deisgnated as a naval aviator. "It's surprising and unexpected, kind of a shock, but a lucky feeling. I feel lucky to be at the right place at the right time."
Though the pair had a rocky start with an aircraft that didn't want to work, the flight smoothed out in the end. Ferry said that Dostal did an awesome job with the landing.
"It's good to have such a milestone for the helicopter community," Ferry said.
The 100,000th landing signifies a long-term history for the military. Before being transformed in 1985, the HLT was an Army Yard Freight Utility Craft that was used during the Vietnam War to transport equipment and supplies. The reconstructed HLT began its operations in April 1986 replacing USS Lexington (AVT 16), which was used for rotary-wing training requirements for students.
More recently, the HLT has experienced an increase in operations, including night and night vision goggle operation, and an expansion of capability to all helicopters except large ones. The HLT averages about 90 underway days a year.
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