C-26 Pilots Support Europe

Story Number: NNS100505-18Release Date: 5/5/2010 9:58:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Felicito Rustique, Navy Public Affairs Support Element -East Det. Europe

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Naval Support Activity (NSA), Naples doesn't have its own squadron of fixed-wing aircraft, but several pilots at NSA Naples continue to take to the skies.

These pilots provide logistical support for the Navy by regularly flying C-26 Metroliners to locations throughout Europe.

"We're not structured like a squadron," said Lt. Christopher Moton. "We work for the base, spread amongst various departments throughout NSA. And, while our job is to provide flight support to commands and government entities in the area, we also have ground jobs or collateral duties."

For example, Lt. Nicholas Whitney's collateral duty is being NSA's Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) officer.

"NATOPS is nothing more than our training and standardization program, designed to ensure that all of us follow the same procedures in the aircraft and fly safely" said Whitney. "I enjoy this role because it ultimately determines our effectiveness and the safety of our crew members."

But when Combined Task Force 63, the command at NSA responsible for handling all logistics in the European area of operations, makes a flight request, two pilots will break away from their desk and head for the cockpit of the C-26. NSA Naples has two Metroliners permanently assigned to the base.

"The C-26 is a dual engine turbo prop with space for up to 13 passengers," said Moton. "It has two propellers with separate engines for each one, giving it asymmetrical thrust."

Whitney, who previously flew SH-60B helicopters before coming to Naples, commented that while the Metroliner may not look very glamorous, it gets the job done.

"Flying a fixed-wing aircraft again after flying helicopters for five years took some getting used to," said Whitney. "That being said, the C-26 allowed me to become a more well-rounded pilot. The aircraft itself is dependable and fun to fly. She ain't pretty, but she takes us to some nice places."

These nice places include Ramstein and Stuttgart, Germany, Rota, Spain, Souda Bay, Greece, and Sigonella, Sicily.

"Flying internationally is probably the best part of being here in Naples," said Moton. "Getting this type of experience is incredible."

And with at least one flight occurring almost daily, the several C-26 pilots from NSA Naples keep a considerably busy schedule.

"Any given week we can be in four or five different countries doing anything from supporting congressional delegations to flying cargo," said Whitney. "Because of the diversity of missions we fly and the places we see, being a C-26 pilot at NSA Naples is great."

Moton, who's also NSA's base training officer feels that he and his fellow pilots are a tight group who do their jobs right because of teamwork.

"We are a good group of guys who socialize together as well as work together. Everyone knows each other and we have a good, efficient way of doing business."

For more news from Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsanaples/.

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