USS Theodore Roosevelt Holds Flight Operations Certification

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) began flight operations certification, Sept. 12, and will continue throughout its current underway period.

Smoke steams from the hydraulics of 20,000 pounds of American diplomacy landing on the flight deck. Before launching again, the aircraft revs up, roars and takes off into the boundless skies.

The bird flies over the Atlantic, while a Sailor watches and thinks to herself, “This is just simply amazing.”

For Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Christian Naylor and many other air crew members, the scene repeats: Shoot. Catch. Shoot. Catch. It is part of USS Theodore Roosevelt’s flight operations certification, which brings out an emotion that no photo can capture following the first launch and arrested landing in more than four years.

“Flight operations certification essentially is making sure that the air crew and the ship are all on the same page and to exercise the entire spectrum of operations on the boat,” said Lt. Carl Federoff, a pilot of the Checkmates of Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VFA-211).

During the certification, Theodore Roosevelt (TR) tests catapults one, two and four. In addition, TR conducts flight operations to certify the flight deck crew and the ship so they can conduct safe flight deck operations.

“We need to hit all the wickets,” said Federoff. “The flight deck crew has their wickets that they need to hit as far as the handlers, the shooters, the arresting gear guys and everybody involved in flight deck. They’re all training and they are all working on qualifications. The air wing is here to support that.”

The certification wasn’t just a test to pass. To many Sailors, it was a moment when life slowed down for them and lasting memories were made.

“When I saw it for the first time, it was one of the most amazing sights I’ve seen,” said Naylor, whose first ship is Theodore Roosevelt. “Words can’t really describe, like how they did in “A” school and here, what it would be like.”

Theodore Roosevelt has come a long way since being in the shipyards for the past four years as part of the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) process.

“It was exciting to see the ship actually catch a bird,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Trevor Ritchey, who is temporarily assigned to primary flight control (PRIFLY). He previously deployed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). “We’ve been in the shipyards for so long. It’s pretty cool to see the ship floating and catching air planes.”

From high above in PRIFLY, Lt. Cmdr. Ron Rancourt, Force Aircraft Handling Officer of Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, and who is responsible for certifying the crew and checking out the training programs, observes the flight deck operations.

“The Theodore Roosevelt is doing excellent and way ahead of the game as far as the skill level and training,” said Rancourt.

Not only does each successful certification bring Theodore Roosevelt closer to life in the fleet, it also gives a once in a lifetime experience for its Sailors to witness history.

Press Release, September 16, 2013