Thunderbolts host family day

By Lance Cpl. Rubin J.Tan
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, also known as the Thunderbolts, held a family day in their ready room, Feb. 24, to teach families more about the squadron’s pilots and their mission aboard the USS Enterprise.

A pilot's wife and child watches pilots perform touch-and-go exercises during Family Day aboard the Air Station, Feb. 24. The exercises are to help pilots gain precision and confidence in landing their aircrafts.

In March, VMFA-251 is to deploy aboard the Enterprise for seven months. The squadron will provide aviation support to Eastern combat missions while deployed.
Families and local media were able to enjoy breakfast, speak with pilots and the squadron’s commanding officer, and also watch a motivational video composed of images and videos from the squadron’s deployment aboard the Enterprise in 2011.
“Family Day is also important to the local community because they live here and have to endure the sound of the aircrafts, so it is important to demonstrate how absolutely critical it is for us to practice before deploying,” said Lt. Col. Simon Doran, VMFA-251 commanding officer. “It is also an opportunity to give back to the families after their continued support of the Marines, sailors and squadron.”

Captain Thomas Rice, a Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 pilot, explains how a Fresnel Lens is used to aid landing pilots during Family Day aboard the Air Station, Feb. 24. The lens has many reflective components that are angled at various angles to reflect light, displaying if a pilot is flying to low or high.

Attendants of Family Day also had the opportunity to   be transported to the end of the air station’s flightline where Thunderbolt pilots were practicing touch-and-go exercises.
The exercises are to help pilots practice landing at the proper angle, speed and location for when they will be aboard the Enterprise.
An area of the flightline was marked with chalk to represent the 1,123-foot long aircraft carrier where pilots will be landing.
The use of a Fresnel Lens, an instrument on the ground to assist pilots in landing, was also explained to help families and media better understand the necessary precautions pilots take before landing.
“It is amazing to be so close to military aircrafts while they are landing and it is really nice to actually see what my son works with every day,” said Jim Mullen, father of Lance Cpl. Christopher Mullen and native of Philadelphia.
Training for the Thunderbolts will continue as they ready for their seven-month deployment.
“It’s a feeling of pride to defend this country and our families, we as VMFA-251 value support from our families and community,” concluded Doran, a native of Liverpool, England.

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