Saturday, May 29, 2010

Darth Vader Does NAVAIR

VAQ-209 is a Naval Aviation Reserve Squadron, based at NAF Andrews, near Washington DC. The squadron flies the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, and electronic jamming aircraft. VAQ-209's traditional role is to serve as backup for regular forces. Lately, to meet OIF and OEF requirements, -209 has been a land based deployable squadron.

VAQ-209's nickname is "Starwarriors". For several years, a small outlined Darth Vader head has adorned their tail. For this year, the squadron came up with a spectacularly painted CAG bird. Darth has been spotted in all of his glory!

A couple of shots of 161883, seen at the NAS Ft. Worth open house recently.

For those of you not 'in the know' ... CAG is a Naval Aviation term that dates back to the '30s, and refers to 'Commander, Air Group'. This was the fellow who commanded all of the aircraft deployed on an aircraft carrier. In the '60s, squadrons started paying tribute to their CAG by painting up one squadron aircraft in colorful, non-standard markings, and putting his name on the canopy rail. This aircraft was then known as the 'CAG Bird'.

These days, indeed since WWII, it is known as a Carrier Air Wing, not Carrier Air Group. However, the name CAG has stuck even after all of these years - calling the boss CAW just doesn't sound right, does it?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Big "E" Rejoins the Fleet

After a two year refit, The USS Enterprise CVN-65 completed flight deck certification trials on May 14 prior to embarking on her 21st cruise. The nation's first nuclear powered carrier, Enterprise has received upgrades and maintenance during her two year absence from the fleet.

CVN-65 will soon set sail with Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) aboard, comprised of VFA-11 (F-18F), VFA-136 (F-18C), VFA-211 (F-18F), VMFA-251 (F-18C), VAW-123 (E-2C), VAQ-137 (EA-6B), VRC-30 Det.2 (C-2A), and HS-11 (SH-60F).
Photos - VFA-211 Super Hornets conducting flight operations during flight deck certification - US Navy photos.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Hero Passes

Col. Walker 'Bud' Mahurin passed away on May 11, at the age of 91.

Col. Mahurin flew P-47 Thunderbolts with the 56th Fighter Group out of England in 1943 and 1944. He was shot down March 27, 1944 over France, but managed to evade and escape back to England. After leave in the US, he was transferred to the Pacific where he flew P-51s.

Bud was credited with 20.75 German and Japanese 'kills' during the war, making him one of the highest ranking US aces.

During Korea, Col. Mahurin flew F-86 Sabres, shooting down 3 MiG-15s. He was shot down on May 13, 1952, and spent 16 months in a North Korean prison suffering intense interrogation and torture.

Col. Mahurin was the only US flyer to shoot down enemy aircraft in both Europe and the Pacific during WWII, and then in Korea. He retired from military service in 1956, and went to work for North American Aviation in SoCal.

Godspeed, Colonel ...