Lemoore, California - The "Stingers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 conducted the last flight of a fleet F/A-18C Hornet based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore February 17.
The flight was conducted by VFA-113's Maintenance Officer Lt. Cmdr. Kristen "Dragon" Hansen.
VFA-113 completed the transition from the A-7E Corsair II to the F/A-18A Hornet Dec. 14, 1983, making the Stinger's the Navy's first fleet operational combat ready strike fighter squadron, and establishing the squadron motto of "First and Finest." In 1989, VFA-113 accepted delivery of the upgraded F/A-18C hornet. In March, VFA-113 will begin transitioning to the F/A-18E Super Hornet.
In August 2014, the squadron embarked on its final combat deployment with the F/A-18C and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The Stingers performed exceptionally on deployment, flying 367 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"The legacy F/A-18 has served the Navy brilliantly as a supersonic fighter for over 30 years," said Cmdr. Eric C. Doyle, the commanding officer of the Stingers. "While we remain proud of all the good work we have done with the F/A-18C, we are excited to begin transitioning to some brand new F/A-18E super hornets."
"It has been an honor and a privilege to fly the F/A-18C Hornet across the Lemoore flight line for the last 10 years," said Hansen. "Although I am excited about receiving our new jets, the 'Charlie' has served me and the majority of the Lemoore Hornet community well over the course of our careers. Our maintainers have done a spectacular job of keeping these aging aircraft combat ready despite the many challenges associated with high-flight hour jets. I'll appreciate the extra gas, but admit that I'll be a little sad when I have to say 'Rhino Ball' vice 'Hornet Ball' behind the boat!"
After the completion of carrier qualifications for the pilots of VFA-113, the final step in the transition process to the F/A-18E being certified as "Safe-for-Flight." Part of that process involves the loading and delivery of live ordnance. Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific will conduct the Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI) for VFA-113 at the beginning of June. Following the completion of CWTPI, the Stingers will become the newest member of the Super Hornet community, making NAS Lemoore an all super hornet flight line.
Aviation Electrician's Mate Second Class David Shimizu is looking forward to the benefits of the transition as well.
"As we think of the word 'transition,' we think of strenuous and difficult times, but in reality, it is our opportunity to purge and rethink our priorities and be intentional about new habits," said Shimizu. "As individuals we set out new goals to be our personal best whether if it is in the work environment, or life in general. We as a team have always pushed ourselves to strive to be the best at any task put forth. Now as we close one chapter of our lives and open a new one, we have the opportunity to make our new normal anything we want."