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PACIFIC OCEAN - Two naval aviators aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) joined an elite group after achieving a major career milestone when they completed their 1,000th arrested landing on the aircraft carrier, Jan. 18.
Capt. Tom Barber, the commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and Cmdr. Jason Hutcherson, the commanding officer (CO) of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, landed aboard the aircraft carrier together in an F/A-18F Super Hornet and accomplished the landing while fellow aviators and aircrewmen watched from the flight deck.
"I hope that they recognize that getting 1,000 traps isn't just me," said Hutcherson, a naval flight officer (NFO). "It's the ship, it's the maintainers, and it's all the supporters that we have as aviators."
Since naval aviation began in 1911, more than 180,000 pilots have earned their wings, but less than 360 pilots and 120 NFOs have achieved the milestone of 1,000 traps. After Hutcherson joined the elite group of NFOs, he said he understood the honor wasn't earned alone.
"It was great to see everybody from my squadron and the air wing up on the flight deck," said Hutcherson. "I was a department head of VFA 2 a couple of years ago and then to come back as the XO (executive officer), and now as CO, and to get 1,000 traps with the same squadron, it's been pretty rewarding."
Barber said he was honored to complete the historic flight with Hutcherson and thanked the squadron and Hutcherson for allowing him to fly their aircraft named "Bullet 100."
"It was very special that two people were able to fly and reach this milestone together," said Barber. "This would not have been possible if it wasn't for all the hard work of the Sailors of Carrier Air Wing 2 and USS Carl Vinson. Thank you."
For many who witnessed the 1,000th trap, the feat meant more than just an impressive number.
"I think it's reassuring to know that we are being led with experience," said Lt. John Cushing, a pilot with VFA 2. "Especially moving forward into this deployment, it helps to know the guys leading the way have literally done it a thousand times before."
The Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The strike group includes Carl Vinson, CVW 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), and guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) from Destroyer Squadron 1.
The strike group's deployment marks the second time it is operating in the Indo-Pacific region under U.S. 3rd Fleet's command and control. U.S. 3rd Fleet's control of ships and aircraft across the Western Pacific and beyond the international dateline to India enables U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet to operate together across a broad spectrum of maritime missions in region.