500,000 Hours In Flight

June 28--NAS Meridian's Training Air Wing One celebrated a milestone Friday during a Naval Aviator Designation Ceremony.

Training Air Wing One celebrated 500,000 flight hours with the T-45C, which is "a lot of flying," said Capt. Brian J. Goszkowicz, commander of Training AIr Wing One. "It is a tremendous milestone, we been flying for over 17 years here in Meridian, so its a long time here to be flying it. The hours mean that we have produced a lot of Naval aviators here in Meridian."

Boeing Director Jim Young presented the award marking the milestone and said Boeing shares an excellent relationship with NAS Meridian.

"We have an old partnership with NAS," Young said. "We have had a partnership since 1997. The are over 200 aircraft being used between the naval aviators."

Boeing makes and performs maintenance on the T-45C aircraft. Young said the partnership calls for continued use of the T-45Cs until 2035.

Following the special recognition of the T-45C, a "winging" ceremony was conducted in which 15 individuals earned their "Wings of Gold" and the title of "Naval Aviator."

The ceremony is a tradition that marks the culmination of nearly two years of specialized training for not only Navy but also for Marines.

Lt. j.g. Gregory Eastburg was presented the "Golden Stick Award," an honor given to the top aviator of each class, by Mississippi Council of the Navy League representative Phil Novak.

Eastburg's father was a retired Rear Admiral, and he said he always knew growing up he wanted to be a naval aviator.

"I feel very surprised to get the award," Eastburg said. "I had no idea what my grades were, but I am very thankful and humbled to receive it. I feel this is the product of a lot of hard work, and it is nice to see it pay off."

Copyright 2014 - The Meridian Star, Miss.