By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas, USS George Washington Public Affairs
PHILIPPINE SEA (June 13, 2015) – Capt. William Koyama, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, and Cmdr. David-Tavis Pollard, commanding officer of the “Dambusters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195, crossed milestones in their career as U.S. Navy pilots, June 12.
Koyama logged his 4,000th official F/A-18 Super Hornet flight hour and Pollard made his 1000th career arrested landing on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) flight deck during the same flight sortie in VFA-195’s number 400 and 401 Super Hornets, respectively.
Koyama has approximately 5,300 flight hours in eight other military aircraft and two civilian aircraft combined. According to him, the significant part of this achievement is completing 4,000 hours in a carrier-based and jet-type aircraft wearing a G-suit and harness all while strapped down to an ejection seat.
Lightheartedly, Koyama was happy to add yet another patch to his jacket. However, he reflected and gave credit to those who were not in the spotlight.
“It represents just a symbol-like diary of what I have done in my career. Twenty-seven years ago I signed up to join the Navy to fly and serve. This is just a representative icon to remind me of the line that connects me to that day,” said Koyama. “Professionally it is a reminder of the great aircraft that the engineers, manufacturers and artisans created, the American people funded, and that other great Americans maintained.”
During his 27-year service, Koyama’s most memorable flights are high ordnance expenditure combat flights during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“First combat flights at the beginning of a campaign are not comparable to anything else, to include any training,” said Koyama. “Despite intense planning, there is chaos and massive uncertainties. I think it was the time in my life when I was confronted with what I was made of.”
As Koyama approached for an arrested landing to finish his momentous hour, Pollard approaches behind to perform his millenary arrested landing – an accomplishment approximately only 450 Naval Aviators have achieved throughout history, according to Pollard.
“This accomplishment is the result of many years deployed, supporting our Nations objectives throughout the world as a war fighter and ambassador,” said Pollard. “It comes with years away from my family, and missing birthdays and holidays. Ryan, my second child, turned 13 the same day I completed my 999th trap. This accomplishment is as much for my family as it is for me. I appreciate their sacrifice in supporting our nation and allowing me to do what I love.”
Pollard has logged 731 arrested landings on George Washington; 109 on USS Enterprise (CVN 65); 96 on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63); 40 on USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67); 16 on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); and 8 on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
“My first arrested landing was over before it started. I remember trying to find the ball [a visual landing aid] on the side of the ship. Once I found it, the training took over. Fifteen seconds later I trapped and my face hit the dashboard,” said Pollard. “After 1000 traps, you still have to go to school on every pass. You never stop learning. It takes focus and concentration to fly the ball all the way to touch down and get the target wire.”
With his experience, Pollard recommends junior pilots to focus on the basics in order to build a solid foundation and reach their maximum potential. Pollard also shared a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that, he believes, sums up a pilot’s job in naval aviation and the Navy as a whole – “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”