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Thunderbolts, Sidewinders arrive at NAS Fallon

By Cpl. John Jackson | | April 6, 2007

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NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nev. - Marines and sailors of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 and Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 86 left the Air Station last weekend and arrived at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., for approximately three-weeks of training.

Both squadrons recently returned to Fightertown after a three-week training cruise aboard the USS Enterprise.

While on the aircraft carrier, the squadrons’ main mission was conducting flight operations on the flight deck of the “Big E,” as well as getting new Marines and sailors familiar with life at sea.

The squadrons continue to train new troops, but in Fallon, the main focus is working with live ordnance and training together with all the squadrons that operate on the Enterprise.

“Being here we are able to take advantage of the live ordnance ranges,” said Lt. Col. Michael Orr, the Thunderbolts commanding officer. “We also will be able to train together as an air wing.”

Both the Thunderbolts and the Sidewinders will not only utilize the live ranges, but also the environment Nevada offers.

“This is a very unique training facility,” said Cmdr. Geoff Gage, the Sidewinders executive officer. “The terrain here is more representative of where we may actually need to fight.”

Being at Fallon provides the squadrons with several different training tools all on one Air Station.

“Here we are not only dropping live ordnance, but we also get to focus on training our pilots in air-to-air combat,” Orr said.

Fallon has several pilots here who act as threat imitators, according to Gage. These pilots will fly aircraft and act as an enemy threat to the squadrons. This training will help the Sidewinder and Thunderbolt pilots be better prepared for any combat condition.

“I think Fallon is essential because it simulates very challenging combat conditions,” Orr said. “This will make pilots and maintainers more efficient and combat ready.”

“I think Fallon is the best flying-training facility the Navy has,” Gage said. “The short time we are here will provide huge dividends for us all.”

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