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Hornet pilot makes 1,000th aircraft carrier landing

Cmdr. Jeff Farmer, commanding officer of Strike Figther Squadron 131, makes the 1,000th arrested landing of his career in an F/A-18C Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, July 23, 2016.

ANDERSON BRANCH/U.S. NAVY

By AARON KIDD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 4, 2016

Cmdr. Jeffrey Farmer has touched down on an aircraft carrier for the 1,000th time, joining an elite group of pilots to reach that mark.

The commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 131 out of Naval Station Oceana, Va., made his landmark arresting-gear landing July 23 aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Gulf.

“This is an enormous milestone in any aviator’s career,” the F/A-18C Hornet pilot said in a Navy statement. “Early on, I wasn’t even sure if I could be a jet pilot, but I gave it my all and never stopped working hard.”

During arresting-gear landings, a system of flight-deck cables, steam engines and sheave dampers are used to quickly decelerate an aircraft. Pilots must make several split-second maneuvers before touching down.

“You lose your focus for a second and you can hurt yourself or someone else,” Farmer said.

In March, an arresting cable broke as an E-2C Hawkeye attempted to land on the Eisenhower’s flight deck, injuring eight sailors. In 2005, a Super Hornet coming in for a landing snapped a cable on the USS Kitty Hawk in two places, sending the jet tumbling overboard and injuring six on the deck, two seriously. In 2003, eight people were hurt when a cable snapped as a Hornet landed on the USS George Washington. A flight-deck coordinator was struck in the legs with the cable, and the jet plunged into the Atlantic.

Farmer credited his fellow servicemembers for his accomplishment.

“Squadrons don’t live and die by pilots,” he said. “These jets don’t fix, build or maintain themselves. There’s so much that goes into putting one guy in a cockpit for one trap. I appreciate everyone who’s helped me in each and every landing. They’ve allowed me to fly in the finest machines in the world.”

kidd.aaron@stripes.com
Twitter: @kiddaaron

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