Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998 Page: 27
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nnovation and change have always been the watch-
words of Naval Aviation. Since its commissioning,
Patuxent River has been dedicated to meeting new
challenges and exceeding operational expectations. The
first US all jet-powered airplane, the XP-59A, was flight
tested in 1944 at Patuxent River. The first Navy all-jet air-
plane to operate from a carrier, the FD-1 Phantom, was
tested here in 1945. The burden of excellence willingly car-
ried by Pax River since the charter set forth by RAdm.
McCain in 1943 has given birth to a tremendous explosion
of accomplishments, new technologies, and improved
Today, that tradition is carried into the twenty-first
century by the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron, Naval
Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. Strike, as it is called,
evaluates and tests fixed-wing, carrier-based jet aircraft
and their systems. The squadron consists of approxi-
mately fifty-one officers, 336 enlisted, and thirty-seven civil
service personnel directly involved with maintenance,
planning, safety oversight, and support of the squadron's
thirty-three aircraft. The test pilots are fleet aviators,
assigned to Strike following graduation from the US Naval
Test Pilot School, also located at Patuxent River. They cur-
rently fly and test the Super Hornet, Hornet, Tomcat,
Prowler, Goshawk, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Cdr. Emmitt D. Dickens, the commanding officer of
Strike, sets an example for his personnel by focusing on
delivering excellence to the fleet. "What have you done for
the fleet lately?" he asks. "This question forms the core of
our approach to the testing and evaluating of future
warfighting systems. My mission, and the mission of the
project pilots and engineering test teams, is to provide the
fleet with the best possible warfighting product."
Flight testing has changed since its often perilous
beginnings, according to Steve Cricchi, the chief test engi-
neer at Strike. "Flight testing today is conducted safely and
efficiently because of the hard work and dedication of
every member of the team," he says. "The project officer
and engineer relationship serves to highlight the effec-
tiveness of the team concept. So the next time the image of
the fearless test pilot chasing that demon alone comes to
mind, remember that a flight test engineer is in the ground
station probably asking for a repeat of that last data point."
Indeed, flight test is vastly different today and will con-
tinue to evolve in response to changing threats and mis-
sions. "Two major trends have been identified as signifi-
cant influences on military operations in the twenty-first
century-technology growth and shrinking resources,"
explains Capt. Michael Cosgrove, who commands Test
Wing Atlantic of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft
CODE ONE 27
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Lockheed Martin Astronautics (Firm). Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998, periodical, January 1998; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1023905/m1/29/: accessed April 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth.