Friday, February 11, 2011

HS-6 Sailors to Observe Centennial of Naval Aviation in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the "Screamin' Indians" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6 are participating in the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CoNA) celebration at Naval Air Station North Island Feb. 12.

Like the numerous changes and improvements in naval aviation during the past 100 years, the squadron is currently in a transition phase, bidding farewell to the historic HH-60 and SH-60F model helicopters Jan. 27 and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the MH-60S later this year.

No HS-6 aircraft will participate in the day's events.

According to Cmdr. Brent Alfonzo, HS-6's commanding officer, the airframe and command transition period leaves the squadron without an aircraft for the San Diego area CoNA event, but it certainly doesn't mean that HS-6 personnel won't be observing the year long CoNA celebration. 

"The transition date is scheduled for July 8 of this year," said Alfonzo. "The biggest and hardest part has been manning the squadron properly; planning ahead and figuring what personnel with what qualification need to be here and ready on time, so come July we can have people ready to operate and maintain the helicopters."

Alfonzo also said that the transition to the "S" airframe also means a change in the mission as well as the command name from HS-6 to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6.

"The anti-submarine aspect of our mission will be going away," said Alfonzo. "Our main focus now will be search and rescue, personnel recovery, special operations support and anti-surface warfare. This allows us to focus on mission sets that are more closely related."

Alfonzo said that the squadron has been sending all of their pilots, aircrew, and maintainers through a transition schooling syllabus. Personnel from the squadron will also work with HSC-3 to learn the intricacies of the MH-60S aircraft.

The Screamin' Indians of HS-6 have been a part of naval aviation for more than 50 years. While squadron members might be disappointed to not be flying in the San Diego area celebration, Alfonzo said HS-6 is proud to be helping establish the face of naval aviation for the next 100 years. 

Commemorating 100 years of progress and achievement in naval aviation, CoNA is a year-long tribute to the scope of all naval aviation activities, including aircraft, people, ships, innovations and significant milestones.

"One hundred years ago naval aviation was on the heels of the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk," said Rear Admiral Pat McGrath, who leads the CoNA effort. "Here in San Diego, experiments with 'hydroaeroplanes' set the stage for the flying machine to become an integral part of our Navy."

The highlight of San Diego area CoNA events is the Feb. 12 Open House and Parade of Flight at NASNI featuring more than 75 historic aircraft, ship and aircraft carrier tours, static display aircraft, and a classic car show.

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