(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex R. Forster/Released)
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Croft, USS Enterprise Public Affairs
USS ENTERPRISE, At sea (NNS) -- An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 became the 400,000th aircraft to land on USS Enterprise's (CVN 65) flight deck May 24.
Lt. Matthew L. Enos and Weapon System Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Welsh manned the Super Hornet for the historic landing. Enos said he is honored he was the pilot to put Enterprise on the short list of aircraft carriers with 400,000 landings.
"This is a day I will never forget," said Enos. "This has been a great deployment even without this feat. Being able to do this is just the icing on the cake."
Enterprise is only the fourth Navy aircraft carrier to have more than 400,000 carrier landings, and is the only carrier still in commission to surpass the number.
Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, Enterprise's embarked air wing, was honored to be a part of this great achievement.
"I'm glad we were able to be here to pull this off," said Capt. Jeffrey L. Trent, commander of CVW-1. "I give thanks to everyone involved in this landing. Many people don't understand how many people are involved in landing a jet on a ship. This made everyone's day."
Below the flight deck Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Joseph R. Naval was manning the number two arresting gear engine when the 400,000th arrested landing was made.
"It's a great feeling to be able to say you had a hand in making the history books," said Naval. "It's not a big surprise though, working on a ship as old as Enterprise means all of us on board are making history everyday."
Enterprise's achievement falls on a historic year for naval aviation. One hundred years ago marks the birth of naval aviation, only eight years after the Wright brothers flew their historic flight.
"U.S. naval aviation has been at the forefront of our national destiny, and has become an unrivaled maritime force," said Rear Adm. Ted Branch, commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic. "Our forces are doing amazing work every day, around the world, and they are making a crucial difference in the ongoing operations."
U.S. Navy aircraft operate from nearly every ship in the fleet, as well as from bases around the world, providing uniquely capable, forward presence and giving naval air assets access nearly anywhere in the world.
"One of the greatest strengths that carrier aviation brings to the table is 'presence,'" said Capt. Gregory C. Huffman, Enterprise's executive officer. "Simply by moving into an area of operation, we play a part in shaping world events and defining national strategy.
In many parts of the world, the carrier and air wing dwarf the capabilities of entire air forces. That is a powerful tool."
In her 50 years of service, Enterprise has wowed many people and set many records. She is the first nuclear-powered carrier and the first nuclear carrier to transit the Suez Canal. Enterprise was the first carrier to fly F-14 Tomcats and is the longest warship in the world. This achievement of 400,000 landings is one more record added to the list.
"I think it's only fitting that a squadron with the impressive history of the 'Red Rippers' is the one to make this landing," said Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, commanding officer of Enterprise. "We are witnessing history."
The other three carriers with more than 400,000 traps are USS Lexington (CV 16), USS Independence (CV 62) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).
Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 1 are in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting close-air support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.