ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- Cmdr. Jeffrey Farmer, commanding officer of the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, joined an elite society of pilots who have made 1,000 arrested landings on an aircraft carrier 1,000 when he touched down aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike), July 23.
Accomplishing one of the most difficult maneuvers an aviator must make for the one-thousandth time had quite the effect on Farmer.
"This is an enormous milestone in any aviator's career," Farmer said, as the Wildcats celebrated around him in the ready room. "Early on I wasn't even sure if I could be a jet pilot, but I gave it my all and never stopped working hard. I couldn't be more thrilled or happier with the way things turned out."
Few countries in the world are brave enough to put their technical expertise to the test with the use of catapults and traps aboard ships. The United States, however, is well versed enough in the matter to allow a single man to land on a small stretch of moving runway in the middle of the ocean hundreds of times.
Since 2001, Farmer has flown an assortment of aircraft on numerous aircraft carriers and has been involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.
"I never imagined I could have made it this far," Farmer said. "I feel blessed at the opportunity to not only be a commanding officer of a squadron, but to continue to fly."
Making an arrested gear landing can prove to be extremely dangerous and the pilot must make several split-second maneuvers moments before touching down. Farmer explained no matter how many times he has landed, he never feels over confident.
"You lose your focus for a second and you can hurt yourself or someone else," Farmer said. "It isn't just me, though. There are so many people behind the scenes ensuring every landing is 100 percent safe."
Thousands of man-hours put in by hundreds of Sailors guarantee every time a jet catches an arresting wire, the crew, the pilot and the equipment are all free from harm. Farmer insisted he couldn't have made a single trap without the help of his squadron and his ship.
"Squadrons don't live and die by pilots," Farmer said. "These jets don't fix, build or maintain themselves. There's so much that goes into putting one guy in a cockpit for one trap. I appreciate everyone who's helped me in each and every landing. They've allowed me to fly in the finest machines in the world."
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