Fleet Helicopters Come to NAS Whiting Field for Fly-In

Published on October 29, 2014 with No Comments

Marine, Coast Guard and Navy helicopters from across the country will be descending on Naval Air Station Whiting Field to engage in the annual Naval Helicopter Association (NHA) Fleet Fly-In this week.  This is the 25th year for the event that gathers helicopters from nearly every active platform in the maritime services.

The four-day Fleet Fly-In begins Tues. afternoon, Oct. 28 as the helicopters arrive to Whiting Field from 1 to 4 p.m., and events will run through Oct. 31st. Navy helicopters which have participated in past Fleet Fly-Ins and are expected for this year’s event include the H-53 Sea Stallion, a H-60 and MH-60R Seahawk, the MH-60S Knighthawk, Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Huey and the Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin and MH-60T Jayhawk. A total of 23 fleet and civilian aircraft are expected at this year’s event.

The NHA brings industry displays from various aviation companies and enables tremendous networking opportunities between pilots and corporate representatives. DART Aerospace, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, FLIR Systems, Inc., Bell Helicopter, L-3 Vertex Aerospace and Agusta Westland will be present at the event with display booths and information.

Col. Gary Kling, Commodore Training Air Wing FIVE, will deliver opening remarks Oct. 29 at 8 a.m. in Sikes Hall to officially begin the flying events. The inaugural Flight Skills competition will take place shortly after on the flight line. The competition will include an instructor from each helicopter squadron who will perform three maneuvers: an autorotation, a high speed approach and the ability to pop water balloons with the skid. Each maneuver will be evaluated by a pilot from Training Wing FIVE. The winning squadron will be awarded a trophy to be kept until next year’s competition, encouraging a friendly rivalry amongst the squadrons.

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 the aircraft they would like to fly, geographic locations, and mission requirements. Students are afforded two windows of opportunity to fly in the fleet aircraft on Oct. 29th and 30th. They are also encouraged to attend informational briefs and social events throughout the week.

There will be numerous opportunities for pilots from different platforms to interact and compete outside of the aircraft as well. The Whiting Field Golf course would be teaming up with Sikorsky Aircraft to host a golf tournament on Oct. 29, tee off will take place at 1 p.m. Another event to look forward to is the 5k on Oct. 30 beginning at 7 a.m., the start line will be located on the back porch of building 2977, the HT-8/HT-18 squadron building. Between briefs, social events and competitions, participants will have plenty of time to interact and learn about industry and fleet aviation.

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.

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