“Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.” 
― Alfred TennysonIn Memoriam

[1] Aviation Electrician’s Mate Airman Seth Orourke, a plane captain assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, gives thumbs up to the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet after completing start-up of the aircraft on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 21 DEC 2011).

[2,3] Members of the flight deck crew direct a F/A-18C Hornet from the Mighty Shrikes of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94 to a catapult on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class George M. Bell, 10 JUN 2013.)

[4] An F/A-18F Super Hornet waits to launch from the waist catapults on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 17 DEC 2011).

 [5] An F/A-18 Hornet launches from the flight deck during night operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 11 JAN 2012.)

Navy suspends search for missing Hornet pilot, presumed dead

(From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 13 SEP 2014. Source.)

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - After an extensive search, the Navy today has ended search-and-rescue efforts for the pilot of one of the F/A-18C Hornet aircraft that crashed Sept. 12 approximately 250 nautical miles off the coast of Wake Island.

The pilot assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 has been presumed deceased.

"This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community," said Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy."

The identity of the pilot will not be released until the family notification process is complete.

Navy units involved in the search-and-rescue efforts included USS Carl Vinson, USS Bunker Hill, USS Gridley, USS Sterett, and USS Dewey, along with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 and P-8s from Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 5 in Guam.

The two F/A-18C aircraft, one assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and the other assigned to VFA 113, had launched from the flight deck and were in the process of proceeding to their initial stations when they apparently collided approximately seven miles from the ship.

One pilot was recovered by helicopter shortly after the crash and transported to USS Carl Vinson for medical care. The rescued pilot has since been released from medical facilities aboard the ship.

VFA 94 and VFA 113, both based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, are part of Carrier Air Wing 17, assigned to the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Hello, baby, don’t you miss me?

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, peels away after being in-air refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker over Eastern Afghanistan. The A-10’s maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made it one of the most utilized aircraft for close air support throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Russ Scalf, 16 AUG 2014. Title from lyrics of "Hello lover" by Empires.)

Two Navy Hornets crash in Pacific Ocean
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor K. Mendoza, 30 MAY 2011.)
From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 12 SEP 2014:
WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - Two F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson crashed early this morning local time, while operating at sea in the western Pacific Ocean.
The initial report is that the two aircraft are assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.
One pilot was rapidly located and returned to Carl Vinson, and is currently receiving medical attention. Search efforts continue for the second pilot.
The search for the second pilot includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, along with helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.
The two F/A-18C Hornets have not been recovered.
All remaining airborne aircraft were safely recovered onboard.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. High-res

Two Navy Hornets crash in Pacific Ocean

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor K. Mendoza, 30 MAY 2011.)

From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 12 SEP 2014:

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - Two F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson crashed early this morning local time, while operating at sea in the western Pacific Ocean.

The initial report is that the two aircraft are assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.

One pilot was rapidly located and returned to Carl Vinson, and is currently receiving medical attention. Search efforts continue for the second pilot.

The search for the second pilot includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, along with helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.

The two F/A-18C Hornets have not been recovered.

All remaining airborne aircraft were safely recovered onboard.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Hildisvíni’s aerobatics.
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, peels away after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Eastern Afghanistan. The A-10’s maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made it one of the most utilized aircraft for close air support throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Russ Scalf, 16 AUG 2014.) High-res

Hildisvíni’s aerobatics.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, peels away after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Eastern Afghanistan. The A-10’s maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made it one of the most utilized aircraft for close air support throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Russ Scalf, 16 AUG 2014.)

The Percheron of rotary wings.
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 2nd Marine Logistics Group prepare to connect a metal beam to a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during external lift training aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. Marines with Helicopter Support Team, CLB-26 partnered with Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302, Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Air Wing, to practice single and dual point cargo lifts.
(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald, 27 AUG 2014.) High-res

The Percheron of rotary wings.

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 2nd Marine Logistics Group prepare to connect a metal beam to a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during external lift training aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. Marines with Helicopter Support Team, CLB-26 partnered with Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302, Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Air Wing, to practice single and dual point cargo lifts.

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald, 27 AUG 2014.)

Barnes Eagle soaring Malaysian skies.
An U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 131st Fighter Squadron, 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., flies over Penang, Malaysia, during Cope Taufan 14. Cope Taufan is a biennial large force employment exercise taking place June 9 to 20 designed to improve U.S. and Malaysian combined readiness.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson, 18 JUN 2014.) High-res

Barnes Eagle soaring Malaysian skies.

An U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 131st Fighter Squadron, 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., flies over Penang, Malaysia, during Cope Taufan 14. Cope Taufan is a biennial large force employment exercise taking place June 9 to 20 designed to improve U.S. and Malaysian combined readiness.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson, 18 JUN 2014.)

SOLDIER STORIES: A day in Iraq through the eyes of a Chinook pilot.

[1] A CH-47D Chinook helicopter sits along the 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade flight line at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq.

[2] A CH-47D Chinook helicopter from 6th BN, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, sling loads fuel blivets to a Forward Armament and Refueling Point in Iraq.

[3] Chief Warrant Officer Three Scott Moore, Company B, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, gets his flight gear ready for another night mission out of Contingency Operating Base Speicher transporting passengers to various locations in Iraq. Moore has flown Chinooks for five years and been a U.S. Army pilot for 14.

(Photos and article by Staff Sergeant Ryan Matson, 25 MAR 2006.)

You name it, Chief Warrant Officer Three Scott Moore, Company B, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, has probably flown it during his 14-year military career. 

He started with UH-1s in 1992, immediately after he had graduated from college and then from flight school, while serving in the Missouri National Guard. During this time, Moore also flew Cobras. From 1998 until 2001, Moore was an Apache attack pilot. Since then, Moore has settled into the cockpit of his newest, and quite possibly last, Army aircraft, the CH47D Chinook helicopter. 

"I envisioned myself as one of those guys who spent 20 years flying the same aircraft," he said. "I didn’t plan on flying several types of helicopters, it just kind of worked out that way."

In fact, of the four types of Army helicopters in the aviation brigade he’s deployed with (the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade), Moore has flown two: Apaches, and Chinooks. He has not flown Kiowas and Blackhawks. During his career, Moore has also flown every type of Army mission: he has flown attack missions with Apaches, Air Assaults and troop and cargo transport with Chinooks, Medical Evacuations (MEDEVACs) with Hueys, and just about everything else in between. And while he said he has loved flying the three different airframes he has flown so far, he said the Chinook is a particular favorite. 

"The Chinook is the most awesome airframe I’ve ever flown in my life," Moore said. "It’s the best instrumented, the best total package, it virtually flies itself. It really is the nicest airframe to fly in the Army."

Moore affectionately refers to the Chinook as ‘the workhorse.” It is capable of lifting a combined gross maximum weight of 50,000 pounds, and up to 26,000 pounds on the center hook of the three cargo hooks attached to the bottom of the helicopter. Each one of the blades on the two rotors of the $23 million aircraft weigh 350 pounds and turn in opposite directions, powered by two engines, which each operate at 50 percent of their total potential power output (if a helicopter is to lose an engine, the other will operate at 100 percent capacity to compensate.) 

Besides its tremendous power and lifting capacity, the Chinook is also known for its troop and cargo hauling ability in the cabin area (inside the helicopter). The aircraft has seats for 32 Soldiers and more can be carried if necessary.
He said a good example of the lifting capability and spaciousness of the Chinook is the fact that a High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle can be driven up the ramp into the cabin area of the helicopter, while another can be carried underneath it.

To the people who knew him growing up, Moore said it is no surprise he ended up an Army helicopter pilot. "It was always a dream for me," he said. "If you would have talked to my parents when I was little, they would have told you, "Oh Scotty, he’s going to be in the Army. He wants to fly helicopters."

Moore’s passion for flying is so great that he turned down more money and higher rank to continue doing it. He was a captain when he went to Panama as a staff officer, and every day that he was sitting at his desk instead of in a cockpit, Moore said he was miserable and longed to get back in the air.

"When I entered the Army, I really didn’t understand what warrant officers were, and that they were the pilots who flew all the time," he said. "My dream was to fly. If you have a dream, you have to go for it."

So Moore went to Warrant Officer School and in May of 1998, he became a Warrant Officer One and climbed back into the cockpit, and hasn’t looked back since.

On his second deployment [in 2006], Moore said his primary mission in Iraq is to fly battlefield circulation missions throughout Iraq on a mission known as the Eagle Express. If you name a town in Iraq, Moore said he’s probably been there. He takes passengers around the country and flies on a constant basis, usually several times a week. In addition to these missions, Moore also flies combat missions, primarily Air Assaults, in which troops and equipment are moved through the air to a combat area.

Though the actual flying mission may only take a few hours, hours of preparation for the crew and on the aircraft take place before the helicopter takes off. If one is to follow him through his daily routine, one would find Moore starting to prepare for a flight at 7 p.m. around 3 p.m. as he did for his flight Feb. 5, an Eagle Express Mission. On this night, Moore, the co-pilot, would be flying with Chief Warrant Officer Four Gary Brackmeier, a veteran pilot who had been flying Chinooks since the Vietnam War era. The rest of the crew was comprised the flight engineer, crew chief and door gunner.

When he arrived at the battalion headquarters, already in his tan flight suit, the first thing Moore did was receive the mission, which indicated where he would be flying and picking up passengers throughout Iraq on this particular mission. At this point the crew had already conducted daily flight inspections. By 4 p.m., Moore had received the brief on the weather for the flight. Next he and Brackmeier got the intelligence report, which detailed enemy activity within the last 24 hours as well as possible points of concern along the route. During this time, the pilots from all aircrafts on the evening’s mission paid close attention to Brackmeier’s wisdom as he suggested methods of avoiding certain threats in the area. By 4:15, the pilots joined their crews for the evening’s flight brief where all the people involved in the evenings mission were informed of its details and last minute details, questions and concerns were addressed. The crew then grabbed some quick chow and met at the aircraft at 6:15, giving them 45 minutes to do some pre-flight inspections, a run-up and communications check before departing at 7 p.m.

"You can always give time back, you can’t get it back," Brackmeier advised.

From 7 to almost 11 p.m., Moore and Brackmeier picked up and transported Soldiers throughout Iraq, before returning to COB Speicher for post-flight inspections and the end of the mission. He said the typical Eagle Express mission usually runs between three and six hours, meaning the workdays of the pilots and crew often last 12 hours or more.

The mission was flown entirely under night vision goggles, which is something Moore said he enjoys. "As soon as you fly with them once, you realize you’re either a night vision guy or not a night vision guy," he said. "I love flying with them."

After all these years of flying, Moore is about to reach yet another milestone in his career. Already a certified UH-1 instructor pilot, Moore is about to be evaluated to become a PC (Pilot in Command). When a pilot starts flying, he starts as a PI (pilot), with a certain readiness level based on the amount of hours they have flown and the level of proficiency they demonstrate to the standardization pilots. Moore will once again make the jump to PC level in yet another aircraft, meaning his senior pilots have enough confidence in his knowledge and ability to operate Chinooks that they will give him a comprehensive flight test for the chance to become a PC. A PC is in charge of the aircraft.

After 14 years of flying, there is one more flight Moore is looking forward to— “the flight home at the end of this deployment.” Back home to Tennessee, to his wife and children.

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Kiowa Warrior coming home.
A OH-58D Kiowa Warrior returns from a reconnaissance mission at FOB Fenty. The Kiowa Warrior is a scout helicopter that is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops. (Courtesy photo, 1 JUN 2014.) High-res

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Kiowa Warrior coming home.

A OH-58D Kiowa Warrior returns from a reconnaissance mission at FOB Fenty. The Kiowa Warrior is a scout helicopter that is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops. (Courtesy photo, 1 JUN 2014.)

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Naval aviators do it in the dark.
An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, Aviation Combat Element assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) performs a vertical landing on the USS Bonhomme-Richard as part of a carrier landing qualification exercise. The 31st MEU regularly conducts carrier landing qualifications to maintain mission readiness as the Pacific’s only forward deployed MEU.
(USMC photo by Cpl M.S. Oxton, 31st MEU Combat Camera, 26 AUG 2012.) High-res

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Naval aviators do it in the dark.

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542, Aviation Combat Element assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) performs a vertical landing on the USS Bonhomme-Richard as part of a carrier landing qualification exercise. The 31st MEU regularly conducts carrier landing qualifications to maintain mission readiness as the Pacific’s only forward deployed MEU.

(USMC photo by Cpl M.S. Oxton, 31st MEU Combat Camera, 26 AUG 2012.)