Northwest Navigator: News and Information from Navy Region Northwest in Washington State's Puget Sound, including Bremerton, Kitsap County, Oak Harbor, and Everett

VAQ-141 deemed ‘safe for flight’

MC2 Tucker Yates
Steve Layman, of the Washington Falconers Association, assists Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Kelsey Olson, of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 Shadowhawks with a two-year-old red-tailed hawk, Shadow, during an EA-18G Growler safe-for-flight ceremony on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Feb. 12. VAQ-141 is the second operational squadron, after the VAQ-132 Scorpion to achieve safe-for-flight status in the fleet wide transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the Growler.

The Shadowhawks of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 held a flyover and a ceremony commemorating their designation of “Safe for Flight” in the EA-18G Growler on Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Feb. 12.

The event marked the culmination of an eight-month training phase for VAQ-141 under the tutelage of VAQ-129, the fleet replacement squadron, as they transitioned from the EA-6B Prowler to the Growler. VAQ-141 is the second operational squadron to have achieved the qualification after the “Scorpions” of VAQ-132.

“June 1, 2009 is a day we all remember very well. It was the day we started our actual transition training over at VAQ-129,” said Cmdr. David Bryson, VAQ-141 commanding officer. “Throughout the past summer and fall, both maintainers and air crew have worked extremely well. A lot of long hours have gone into both preparing for in-flight, training in simulators and working towards qualifications for the maintainers so that we can maintain these beautiful aircraft.”

The guest speakers for the event were Capt. Patrick Cleary, commander, Carrier Air Wing 8, and Capt. Tom Slais, commodore of Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“It’s a pretty phenomenal accomplishment to do that much work and reinvent yourselves in [less than] one year. I’m very impressed with what you’ve done,” said Cleary. “This airplane [the EA-18G] is the most capable airplane the U.S. Navy has today. I would argue that it is probably the most capable aircraft in the U.S. inventory today, which means it’s the most capable aircraft in the world.”

Bryson said he is proud of his crew’s accomplishments over the course of the transition and is confident they will maintain their high standard of proficiency in the future.

“One thing I’ve noticed throughout this entire process in all the Shadowhawks Sailors is th at even though the entire squadron was in the process of transition, the Sailors never changed,” said Bryson. “They never went away from what makes this group of people great in my opinion, what I call the ‘Shadowhawk spirit. This day would have never arrived, nor would the squadron have performed as well as it did during this transition without these Sailors and their work ethic and spirit.”

In recognition of the event a two-year-old female Red-tailed Hawk, renamed Shadow for the occasion, was in attendance. Shadowhawks were afforded the opportunity to hold the raptor during the event. Shadow is owned by Whidbey Island local Joel Gerlach.

VAQ-141 will be the first Growler squadron to go on a ship-based deployment when they embark on the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) in spring of next year.

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