News | Dec. 19, 2023

Self-Proclaimed ‘Biggest Fan’ of E-2 Aircraft Visits NAS Patuxent River for Tour

By Victoria Falcón

John Engelbrecht has a favorite hat and shirt—both have embroidered images of the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft on them. Engelbrecht, who turned 90 in March, loves to watch E-2 videos on the military channel, and there is no topic of conversation he likes more than the E-2C and the 25 years he spent as an engineer providing technical support for the system.

Engelbrecht’s son, Scott, recently reached out to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to see if the aircraft would be present at any upcoming airshows since, according to the younger Engelbrecht, “my dad is its biggest fan.” Instead, NAVAIR, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and Naval Test Wing Atlantic invited the Engelbrechts to come to Southern Maryland for a visit to Naval Air Station Patuxent River and a tour of the E-2D—the current aircraft variant. 

The elder Engelbrecht was already an experienced engineer when he began working comparative tradeoff analysis on the E-2A and E-2B in 1965. He eventually was responsible for the mechanical interface and integration of new avionics into the E-2C weapons system. His E-2C career spanned 25 years with several different contracting companies where he provided systems engineering, technical and management support for the aircraft.

“Thank you for your career efforts and many years of service to this program,” said Rear Adm. John S.  Lemmon, Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)).  Lemmon was on hand to greet Engelbrecht and his son, giving the senior Englebrecht a PEO(T) coin to help commemorate his visit. 

“We wouldn’t have the E-2D today if we didn’t have the E-2C and the development work you helped to put in the aircraft,” Lemmon said. 

Members of the E-2D test community also welcomed the Engelbrechts and then showed them around the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 hangar and several of the first E-2Ds built. Lt. Cmdr. Bradley Roby, E-2/C-2 Government Flight Test Director; Lt. Cmdr. David Chapelle, E-2/C-2 Deputy Government Flight Test Director; Lt. Harrison Ostrenga, E-2D Project Officer; Ben Hayashi, Northrup Grumman Corp. E-2D Test Naval Flight Officer; as well as two flight test engineers for the E-2D—Will Woolford and David Lower—all were available to answer questions about the aircraft and explain aircraft modifications and increased capabilities.

Some of those changes discussed by the group included increasing the number of propeller blades from four to eight, adding a probe on the front of the aircraft to allow for air-to-air refueling and removing ashtrays from the cockpit. 

Engelbrecht said he and his dad will continue to watch E-2 videos on the military channel, but they are grateful for the opportunity to see the latest variant of the aircraft in person. 

Victoria Falcón is a strategic communications specialist for Naval Test Wing Atlantic.