North Santa Rosa

Whiting Fields host 22nd NHA Fleet Fly-In

NAS Whiting Field Hosts 22nd NHA Fleet Fly-In

 Marine, Coast Guard and Navy helicopters from across the country will descend to Naval Air Station Whiting Field to engage in the annual Naval Helicopter Association (NHA) Fleet Fly-In.  This is the 22nd year for the event that gathers helicopters from nearly every active platform in the maritime services.  It is one of two annual NHA events, and occurs the third week of October.

Although the event started with just a few aircraft, it has grown to regularly feature around two dozen rotary winged aircraft, and to help celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation, as many as four historically painted helicopters are expected to attend.

The NHA brings industry displays from various aviation companies and enables tremendous networking opportunities between pilots and corporate representatives.  However, the true value of the Fleet Fly-In is the impact it makes on the flight students as they prepare to made career decisions on aircraft they would like to fly, geographic locations, and mission requirements.

“I remember that the first time I climbed into a fleet helicopter was during the Fleet Fly-In.  There should be something from each of the rotary wing communities to help the students get some hands on experience with a fleet squadron.  It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn,” Cmdr. Hans Sholley, commanding officer Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT said.

The four-day Fleet Fly-In begins Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 18 as the helicopters arrive to Whiting Field.  Navy helicopters which have participated in past Fleet Fly-Ins and which are expected for this year’s event include the H-53 Sea Stallion, the various versions of the H-60 Seahawk, the MH-60S Knighthawk, MH-60R, Marine Corps H-53 Sea Stallion, AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Huey and the Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin.

Students are afforded three windows of opportunity to fly in the fleet aircraft, but other opportunities through social and formal events enable them to ask questions and learn from the more experienced pilots.  These events include: industry displays, briefs from community detailers for the students, static display aircraft, cook outs and sporting activities with the fleet pilots.

The event takes months to plan, and involves cooperation from NAS Whiting Field, Training Air Wing FIVE, corporate sponsors, military contract personnel and more.  It is a long process, but one that is eagerly awaited each year by the staff and students in the training squadrons.

“The goal is to make an event that builds on previous years – to set a foundation to help it grow,” Sholley said.  “It is a great event that brings the training all together for the students.  It is a great motivator for them since, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Posted by on Oct 17 2011. Filed under Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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