VMFAT-101

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Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101
VMFAT-101 insignia.png
VMFAT-101 Insignia
Active January 3, 1969 - present
Country United States
Branch USMC
Type Fighter/Attack
Role Fleet Replacement Squadron
Part of Marine Aircraft Group 11
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
Nickname "Sharpshooters"
Tail Code SH
Commanders
Current
commander
Col Robert C. Boyles

Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101) is a United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet training squadron. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11) and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW).

History[edit]

Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), was commissioned at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California on January 3, 1969, as part of Marine Combat Crew Readiness Training Group 10, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The squadron trained naval aviators and naval flight officers in the employment of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. VMFAT-101 flew its first training sortie February 20, 1969, and completed its first class of fighter aircrew by August of that year.

During the summer of 1970, VMFAT-101 moved to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona In 1972 the Sharpshooters earned their first Chief of Naval Operations CNO Aviation Safety Award for Excellence in aviation safety after compiling over 18,300 mishap free flight hours.

F-4B Phantom II of VMFAT-101 in 1973

In July 1974, VMFAT-101 absorbed the assets of VMFAT-201 from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and became the largest fixed wing tactical jet squadron and the sole remaining F-4 training squadron in the Marine Corps. The Sharpshooters earned the 1976 CNO Aviation Safety Award, as well as the Commanding General Fleet Marine Forces Pacific Aviation Safety Award in 1978 and 1979 while it amassed over 30,000 mishap-free flight hours. The Sharpshooters continued to train aircrews in the venerable Phantom II and in 1983 earned the coveted Marine Corps Aviation Association Robert M. Hanson Award as the finest fighter squadron in Marine aviation.

May 20, 1987, VMFAT-101 trained its last F-4 replacement aircrew; during July the squadron flew its remaining 10 F-4 aircraft to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., for permanent storage. During the 18 years VMFAT-101 flew the Phantom, the Sharpshooters amassed over 125,000 flight hours training Marine and Navy aircrews for the fleet.

An F/A-18D from VMFAT-101 on the tarmac.

On September 29, 1987, VMFAT-101 returned to MCAS El Toro to prepare for duty as the third F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). March 31, 1988, MCCRTG-10 deactivated and VMFAT-101 joined Marine Aircraft Group 11. By October of that year, the Sharpshooters owned 21 F/A-18s, had trained 25 qualified instructor pilots and were ready to begin training new Hornet pilots. By May 1989 VMFAT-101 graduated 23 new F/A-18 pilots and accumulated over 11,000 mishap free Hornet flight hours. In December 1989 the squadron entered its sixth year mishap/injury free.

On January 10, 1990, VMFAT-101 accepted its first two seat F/A-18D Hornet and began training aircrew for the transition into the Hornet. In June 1990 the Sharpshooters had graduated over 150 Hornet aircrew, amassed over 28,000 F/A-18 A, B, C and D flight hours

On November 30, 2006, a Hornet from VMFAT-101 crashed just east of MCAS Miramar. The pilot ejected safely to the ground three miles east of the airfield.[1][2]

On December 8, 2008, an F/A-18D Hornet from VMFAT-101 crashed in the University City neighborhood of San Diego, approximately two miles to the west of MCAS Miramar, destroying two houses and killing four people on the ground.[3][4][5] The pilot safely ejected and landed with minor injuries. The aircraft suffered a mechanical failure due to negligent maintenance shortly after taking off from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln en route to MCAS Miramar from a training exercise.[6][7] The investigation, released on March 3, 2009, concluded that a failure to maintain the fuel system led to the crash, as well as questionable decision making on the parts of the pilot and squadron officials on the ground, leading to the relieving of the squadron commander, maintenance officer, and two others.[8]

On March 30, 2011 a VMFAT-101 F/A-18C Hornet suffered a catastrophic engine failure, explosion and fire just before launch from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego during launch and recovery training operations. The aircraft was at full power, under tension on the catapult when the accident occurred. Eleven flight deck crewman were injured and the pilot was unhurt. There was no major damage to the carrier but the aircraft was a total loss. The investigation is pending and this is the second major mishap related to engine failure and maintenance in 3 years at this command. [9][10][11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
Bibliography
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