News | Dec. 19, 2023

Training Air Wing 2 Tests Out IFLOLS at JRB Fort Worth

By Sandy Owens

In an effort to avoid the seasonal bird migrations at its home station in Kingsville, Texas, Training Air Wing 2 (TW-2) established a detachment training site at Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base (JRB) Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 5-21. Fort Worth also offered the opportunity for the wing to use the base’s newly acquired Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (IFLOLS).  

Bird migration often disrupts training opportunities in Kingsville.

“We are testing out Fort Worth as a detachment base, to see if it can be used for our training during the Fall and Spring due to heavy bird migrations in Kingsville,” said Lt. Joseph Jackson, an instructor pilot with TW-2. “The influx of birds becomes such a challenge that we are often unable to fly. Our hope is to mitigate the disruption caused by the birds by supplementing our operations with flights here.”  

TW-2’s mission is to prepare jet pipeline Student Naval Aviators for subsequent operational and combat instruction. The T-45C aircraft is used to teach basic tactics such as weapons delivery, close formation flying, air combat maneuvering and carrier qualification.  

“The detachment has been going really well, we have not had any issues. Working with the Air Force and Marines within the air space has been really smooth,” Jackson said. “Our focus right now is fundamental training activities, including takeoffs, landings, aerobatics and formation flying. A big focus is Field Carrier Landing Practice, which is critical for us getting ready to go to the aircraft carrier. In order for us to practice this we have to have the IFLOLS, which there are very few that exist in the Navy, so it’s a big deal that NAS JRB Fort Worth has one.”  

The training included 40 student jet pilots, 20 instructor pilots and 10 T-45C Goshawk aircraft.

During a visit to NAS JRB Fort Worth on Sept. 18, Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Richard Brophy emphasized the importance of the IFLOLS in the training of jet naval aviators.  

“IFLOLS is a critical system that is essential for every tailhook naval aviator to master. The availability of a shore based system at NAS JRB Fort Worth provides our training air wings with an opportunity to pursue elevated training for Student Naval Aviators prior to their initial qualification at sea,” Brophy said. “NAS JRB Fort Worth is an ideal location that offers flexibility and reduced risk from bird strike. We are looking forward to the training progress that we will complete here in the coming weeks.”  

Coordinating the detachment from NAS JRB Fort Worth was Lt. Cmdr. William Husky, Operations Officer.
“Hosting TW-2 has been a great opportunity for Air Traffic Controllers and Transient Line personnel to receive training. Our Air Traffic Controllers have been able to accumulate qualification hours, and our Transient Line personnel have been able to refine their skills in setting up the IFLOLS,” Husky said. “This experience is contributing to their future success in supporting aviation operations here on the installation and beyond.” 


About the Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (IFLOLS) 

Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base (JRB) Fort Worth recently expanded its training capabilities by acquiring an Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (IFLOLS). With this specialized equipment, NAS JRB Fort Worth is now fully equipped to host specialized training flights for pilots, enabling them to practice and perfect their aircraft carrier landing skills. 

“The IFLOLS, or ‘meatball,’ will be invaluable for student naval aviators learning to land on aircraft carriers,” said Executive Officer Clayton Johnson. “The aircraft carrier environment is unique among runways since it is just 500 feet long, located 60 feet above a pitching sea with minimal lighting at night. The meatball is a key component to getting a naval aviator on deck safely at the carrier. It requires special experience to use it properly, and the consequences of ignoring it or misinterpreting its signals can easily result in catastrophic mishaps.” 

The IFLOLS allows new pilots to undergo training in a controlled environment. Aspiring naval aviators will undergo Field Carrier Landing Practice (FLCP) flights, both during the day and night, to master utilization of the IFLOLS under simulated carrier conditions. 

“FCLP flights consist of up to a dozen touch-and-go landings per student, each of which will be carefully graded by an experienced Landing Signals Officer (LSO). The LSO is a seasoned carrier aviator specifically trained to mentor and guide pilots as they land at the carrier,” Johnson said. 

The installation and removal of the IFLOLS on the flight line will be handled by the transient line personnel at NAS JRB Fort Worth. Ground electronics technicians will be responsible for conducting maintenance to ensure the IFLOLS remains in optimal working condition. 

“We proactively sent two Sailors from the transient line and one from ground electronics to NAS Meridian for training on the pre-operational inspection and proper setup of an IFLOLS,” said Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Maintenance Subject Matter Expert Rob Donaldson. “This training ensures that personnel are equipped with the necessary skills to efficiently perform these tasks and maintain the IFLOLS system at its peak operational capabilities. The setup process itself typically takes around 45 minutes to complete.” 

The IFLOLS is unique to the Navy as no other service routinely operates aircraft offshore, hundreds of miles away from land. 

“In one sense, it is the IFLOLS—in conjunction with tailhooks and arresting cables—that allows our Navy to project power around the world. I’m proud that NAS JRB Fort Worth gets to be part of the story for those young student pilots learning how to land at ‘the boat,’” Johnson said. 

Sandy Owens is a deputy public affairs officer at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.