Student naval aviators
performed touch-and-goes, arrested landings and catapult-assisted
launches aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Jan. 25-28,
completing their first carrier qualifications (CQ).
Ike hosted four squadrons throughout the CQ period and qualified
32 aviators. The “Eagles” of Training Squadron (VT) 7;
the “Tigers” of VT-9 (both from Meridian, Miss.,); the
“Red Hawks” of VT-21; and the “Golden
Eagles” of VT-22 (both from Kingsville, Texas) are comprised
of both Navy and Marine student aviators.
Typically, CQs are one of the last milestones before students
earn their wings. “This was their final exam,” said
Cmdr. Wayne Harrison, Ike’s air boss.
The student pilots, or "nuggets," as they are known prior to
earning their wings, had to complete 10 touch-and-goes and 10 traps
for the final stage of their training.
“They are called nuggets because they are rough around the
edges, and we are going to fine-tune them into a fine jewel,”
Though the students had been training extensively on land,
simulating different variables and conditions presented on an
aircraft carrier, CQs offered the students their initial encounter
with a moving landing strip. The experience was an anxious one for
“It varies from student to student,” said Lt. Col.
Greg Beeb, officer-in-charge of the Chief of Naval Air Training
detachment. “Some students do very well and are confident
when they come out here, and others, quite honestly, are a little
bit timid about it, seeing the back end of the ship for the first
time. For each one of them, certainly it is
That said, Ike’s crew was ready to welcome the student
aviators. “We had to make sure we were very efficient,”
Harrison said. “The biggest challenge for us was making sure
the student was looking at the right director.”
With all the activity on deck during flight operations, it was
important for the student to focus on the right director to
maintain a safe environment.
“The whole process was developmental for the
students,” Beeb said. “When they were taxiing on the
flight deck, they felt like they were in a foreign land.”
Ensuring safety guidelines are followed throughout the underway
period really begins with the crew prior to leaving Naval Station
Norfolk. “We do the same preparation for every underway check
period,” Harrison said.
The student pilots were flying the T-45 Goshawk training jet.
The aircraft, the Navy version of the British Aerospace Hawk
aircraft, is used for intermediate and advanced portions of the
Navy pilot training program for jet carrier aviation and tactical
strike missions. The Goshawk features one Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 851
turbofan engine and has a maximum range of 1,400 nautical miles.
The Goshawk aircraft is small in size, with a wingspan of 30 feet,
8 inches, and a length of less than 40 feet, but its versatility
allows the student pilots an opportunity to get all their work in
With the completion of this set of qualifications, Ike has done
her part to ensure this batch of nuggets can soon polish their new
wings and become a U.S. naval aviator. [ANN Salutes Journalist 2nd
Class Paul Simonds, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower PA]