On a warm Wednesday morning last week, personnel on the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School flightline were treated to an unusual sight: three F/A-18F Super Hornets lined up ready for flight. Normally, only two out of the school’s four aircraft are available for the flight schedule at any given time due to scheduled maintenance intervals. However, thanks to the efforts of the school’s maintenance contractors, three aircraft were made ready to execute two student sorties and a functional check flight.
The effort involved extra planning and all hands in the school’s fixed-wing shop. The school’s operations department scheduled the flights at different times to allow the most effective allocation of personnel. Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, all three events were completed successfully.
USNTPS uses the F/A-18F at various times in the syllabus for radar and weapons delivery evaluation and flight envelope and control demonstration. Currently, the junior Test Pilots Under Instruction (TPUI) in Class 157 are performing introductory flights for students who have never flown in F/A-18Fs. Follow-on flights will expand on introductory material to include the advanced flight control system, and provide exposure to the air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities of the aircraft.