NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - The final deployment of the USS Enterprise got underway three days ago, but the ship and her crew are still working off the Virginia-North Carolina coasts.
Pilots abroad the vessel have to be recertified to land and take-off from the flight deck. The process is known as carrier qualifications or CQ and they must be done before the Enterprise can steam east for the Mediterranean Sea.
Commanding Officer Captain Bill Hamilton said, "We're kind of a prisoner to the wind when we want to fly. The ship has to turn into the wind..."
With such an unpredictable element, the training proves vital to the proficiency of the pilots, especially as they fly aboard the aircraft carrier. The island house on the Enterprise is taller than the superstructures on Nimitz class carriers.
Captain Jeff Trent, CAG, said, "So, it creates a little bit of turbulent air. Nothing that you would notice if you weren't a pilot trying to fly that absolutely perfect landing."
Safety is the main objective, so every landing is scrutinized.
Aviator Lieutenant Matt Degree explained, "Everything we do out here we're graded on. That adds a little stress to it and we're all type "A", want to be the best..."
Stress is not limited to pilots. The crew of the flight deck has one of the most dangerous jobs on earth.
Lieutenant, Junior Grade Gilbert Bishop, Air Bos'n, added, "You got to keep your head on a swivel at all times..."
Once carrier qualifications are complete, the emphasis aboard ship will shift to their destination.
"So, we'll probably race pretty much all the way across before we fly again, which is why we're getting everybody qualified right now...," Hamilton said.
When WAVY.com spoke with the Captain Tuesday he said the Enterprise was on schedule and will probably make the turn east by sometime Thursday afternoon.
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