NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) pulled into its homeport of Norfolk after an eight-day underway, Feb. 18.
The ship's crew conducted various training evolutions and flight exercises throughout the underway, including carrier qualifications (CQ) for three squadrons, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 "Gladiators," Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 "Grey Hawks," and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 "Dragon Whales."
CQs train new pilots, and experienced pilots returning to flying from non-flying assignments, for carrier-based launches and landings in preparation for assignments to operational squadrons.
"VFA-106 is the fleet replacement squadron (FRS) for F-18 pilots," said Lt. j.g. Shane Brady, attached to the Gladiators. "This underway was a lot of our first times landing on a carrier."
FRS trains pilots and flight officers in their specific aircraft before being assigned to the fleet. During the underway, extreme weather conditions added to the difficulty of landing an aircraft at sea.
"The pitching deck and high winds created a challenging situation," said Brady. "We had rough seas and winds reaching 40 knots."
VAW-120 utilized this underway to train its pilots in transitioning from the E-2C Hawkeye to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
"We just finished the transition to the new E-2D, and this is the first time for our pilots operating this aircraft on a carrier," said Lt. j.g. Patrick Flynn. "These CQs are great for maintaining pilot proficiency in both day and night conditions."
George H.W. Bush is in port after conducting training exercises in the Atlantic Ocean.
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