By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Riggs
WATERS EAST OF JAPAN – Civilian guests and their Sailor sponsors watched as the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) embarked airwing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, performed a sea and air power demonstration as part of the ship’s four-day Tiger Cruise, Aug. 6.
The airshow showcased the airwing’s warfighting capabilities through a series of complex aerial stunts that Tigers and their families viewed from the flight deck and signal bridge.
“We were able to show Tigers what our aircraft can do and what we can do together as a combined airwing,” said Lt. j.g. Alicia Willms, a pilot from the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12. “It also gave them a chance to see flight operations first-hand, an experience not many people get to see.”
The airwing showed off its power, maneuverability, and versatility by performing various stunts including a fast-rope exercise from an MH-60S Seahawk and a fly-by over the ship with more than ten aircraft in formation.
“An air power demonstration is a very elaborate process with many moving parts,” said Lt. Jim Robillard, a pilot from the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12. “It takes a lot of planning to make sure everything goes smoothly. Every event was carefully scripted to ensure the demonstration went off without a hitch.”
While flight operations are part of the ship’s normal routine, deliberate planning, practice and training were necessary for pilots to perform safely and accurately.
“We train for events like this days in advance,” said Willms. “It takes a lot of preparation to have an event like this. ”
Tigers were allowed to watch the event from either the flight deck or from the highest levels of the ship’s signal bridge on ‘Vulture’s Row’: a balcony that overlooks the entire flight deck.
“It was pretty impressive to see what the Navy is capable of,” said Mike Correll, a Tiger from Macedonia, Ohio. “It’s particularly amazing to see how well the aircraft worked together to pull of some of the stunts.”
Tigers are typically close friends or relatives of their sponsors. The sponsor accompanies their Tiger throughout their stay and introduces them to daily operations of Nimitz-class aircraft carriers like George Washington.
“This Tiger Cruise is particularly important to me,” said Engineman 2nd Class David Gorrell, sponsor and son of Mike Correll. “It’s awesome to finally get to show my family what I do for a living and give them a first-hand experience in my working environment.”