‘Flying Tigers’ soar through carrier landing training
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 2005619201443
Story by Lance Cpl. Scott M. Biscuiti



MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (June 17, 2005) -- With conflict always on the horizon, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit must be immediately available to complete any mission it is tasked.

Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-262 Reinforced, “Flying Tigers,” currently attached to the 31st MEU, conducted field carrier landing practice as part of their required training to receive carrier qualification here Jun. 2.

“Before we can carry troops or cargo, we have to meet certain requirements,” said 1st Lt. Kenneth W. Morrow, the plans officer for HMM-262. “We have to do five shore-based landings, five ship landings and five landings both in high-light level or low-light conditions.”
Before the training began, the pilots and crew chiefs were briefed on various issues, including possible inclement weather conditions and equipment needed to conduct the exercise. After the helicopters were fueled and safety-tested, the pilots lifted off and headed for Ie Shima, a small island off the northwest shore of Okinawa, to execute the shore-based portion of the training.

“This training is conducted to simulate shipboard operations as closely as possible,” Morrow explained. “We don’t have all the conditions associated with a real ship, but it offers a great training opportunity to practice for the real thing.”

Each pilot took turns landing a helicopter on a simulated flight deck. The goal of the crew chiefs and pilots was to work together to ground the aircraft wheels within the designated landing markers. On an actual ship, precision is paramount due to the confined operating space.

“We have to be very thorough when we practice to ensure we can land on a moving vessel,” said Gunnery Sgt. Angelo A. Servantez, the airframes chief for HMM-262. “On a ship, the aircraft are very close together and crew chiefs must call the rate of descent for the helicopter to make sure their rotors do not hit the rotors of another aircraft.”

Training for shipboard operations is part of mission readiness and is a crucial component of being an expeditionary force. The Marines of HMM-262 understand how important training exercises like these are to keep themselves ready to carry out any mission they are tasked with.

“It is critical to be prepared at a moment’s notice,” said Maj. Matt A. Collins, executive officer of HMM-262. “Shipboard operations give us incredible flexibility in what (missions) we can accomplish. That is the primary method in which we project our presence.”

Marine aviation consists primarily of sea-based deployments, and for that reason, it is extremely important that all aviation assets are trained, qualified and prepared to employ their forces from Naval vessels, Morrow added.

“Training like this keeps us ready to deploy and stay combat effective,” Morrow stated.

Ellie