SHUTTLE USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - Friday, May 6, 2011
THE ENEMY’S WORST KNIGHTMARE
Friday, May 6, 2011
Knighthawks setting the standard on Big ‘E’
By MCSN Daniel J. Meshel USS Enterprise Public Affairs
USS ENTERPRISE, At sea – Of the seven squadrons that comprise Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the ‘Knighthawks’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 stand apart from the rest. The squadron is the only one aboard that flies the single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet, making the Knighhawk pilots effective at doing two jobs at once. “It requires pilots with a greater deal of skill who can handle more task-loading,” said Cmdr. Damien “Satan” R. Christopher, the commanding officer of VFA-136. “The workload is higher. Radios, weapons, and flying the aircraft all get done by the pilot.” The other Super Hornets on board are the twoseat variety that allow a weapon systems officer to help share the workload on more complicated missions. The level of performance and skill exhibited by Knighthawk pilots and maintainers is not unusual for the squadron, which has won the Strike Fighter Bombing Derby and
Photo by USS Enterprise Public Affairs
Sailors assigned to the “Knighthawks” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 tend to one of the squadron’s F/A-18 Super Hornets on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).
earned the Top Hook award for CVW-1 seven line periods in a row, said Christopher. “Top Hook is awarded to a squadron with the highest grade point average after a line period,” said Lt. Andrew G. Talbott, a pilot assigned to the Knighthawks. A line period is a set timeframe where each landing is graded and compared to other units. As aircraft land aboard the ship, they are observed, assessed, and then given an overall grade along with critique and semantics, all in an effort to improve performance. “You can have an okay pass, which is a 4.0, a fair pass, which is a 3.0., and a no-grade pass which is a 2.0,” said Talbott. It’s not just the pilots that participate, said
Christopher. The grade incorporates the combined efforts of the squadron’s maintenance department that contributes to the squadron’s success. The squadron has also won the Retention Excellence Award three years in a row, seen advancement rates rise 63 percent in one cycle after implementing an advancement team, and witnessed enlisted warfare qualifications grow by more than 337 percent in the last year alone. “The squadron has come together [and] rallied around a cause that they know is bigger than themselves,” Christopher said. “Everybody has been a part of making an environment where those around them rise to the occasion.” For Christopher, to win
in combat, the primary mission of the squadron, first begins with attitude. “Constantly learning from setbacks, collaboration, and constant self-critique,” said Christopher, “provides the vision and forethought to maintain goals of winning and continuing superior performance.” The friendly competition between squadrons is part of the inherent process improvement mindset that the squadrons on board build into everything they do. With people’s lives at stake in the air and on the ground, extremely potent weapons on board and millions of dollars in equipment controlled by one person, the pilot must be confident. “The track record we’ve established, the winning totals that we continue to rack up, are indicative of that measure of success,” he said. “The only reason we do it is because, whether we want to say so or not, combat is a competition, and you don’t want to be on the losing side,” said Christopher. “I’m biased of course,” added Christopher. “But this is the greatest hornet squadron in the history of Naval aviation,” he said. His confidence is contagious.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Sailor of the Day
Marine of the Day
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman
Keith Wanzor - Washington, D.C.
Jonathan W. Carr - Orange County, Virginia
ABEAN Wanzor, an arresting gear night maintenance technician and engine room operator assigned to Air department’s V-2 division, joined the Navy two years ago for the travel and education benefits. To Wanzor, the most rewarding aspects of his job are “safely recovering aircraft and reaping the benefits of knowing that a little hard work and long hours are a small price to pay for freedom.” Wanzor is working hard on his in-rate qualifications and aspires to make petty officer 3rd class in the near future. Wanzor plans on taking his family to Disney World after deployment and enjoys reading the Bible in his spare time.
Lance Cpl. Carr, an airframe mechanic assigned to the “Thunderbolts” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251, joined the Marine Corps two years ago while searching for a steady job. To Carr, the most rewarding aspect of his job is “knowing that I am maintaining the Marine Corps’ attack aircraft and knowing that it is protecting troops on the ground.” After his Marine Corps career, Carr aspires to one day take over his family’s water fowl hunting guide service Outdoor Action and have his own TV show about the great outdoors. During his free time, Carr enjoys duck hunting, fishing and spending time with friends.
Photos by MCSN Jesse L. Gonzalez
Answers can be found on Big ‘E’ Net at S:\Public\MEDIA\GM\Crossword and Sudoku answers
Down 1 “___ she blows!” 2 It springs eternal 3 Asteroid discovered in 1898 4 A majority 5 Egg-shaped instrument 6 Choral work 7 Mimic 8 Determined 9 Reception device 10 “The Maltese Falcon” actor 11 Film director Jon 12 Waterway 13 Come together 15 Hot 21 Meat treat 23 Diatribes 24 Health resorts 25 Actionable wrong 26 Asian border river 27 Scholarly book 31 Item on a to-do list 32 Rick’s love in “Casablanca” 33 Exceeding 34 Former capital of Japan 36 Drink 39 Artemis turned him into a stag 40 Memento ___ 41 Father of Odysseus 42 Win over 45 Bagel purveyors 46 Keys 47 Vengeful feeling 48 Unpleasant smell 49 Handout 51 One of a comical pair 52 Josip Broz 53 “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” author 54 Professor Higgins, to Eliza 57 Hair application
Across 1 Those people 5 General Bradley 9 Exclamation of sorrow 14 Astrologer’s reading 16 “___ is an island” 17 Forsakers of the faith 18 Lopez of pop 19 Make good as new
20 Gorge 22 Dickens heroine 24 New York City island 28 Court star Lendl 29 Roman goddess of fruit trees 30 Link 35 Jack-in-the-pulpit 36 Harmful
37 Edison’s middle name 38 Flowed copiously 41 Not as important 43 Inlet 44 Asia Minor capital 45 Troubled 49 Give up hope 50 Bridge support
55 One of a comical pair 56 Unrest 58 Mislead 59 Power source 60 German steel city 61 Antlered animals 62 Prying