NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The F/A-18 Hornet community celebrated the 35th anniversary of the aircraft’s first flight during a ceremony this week at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
Originally designed to replace the F-4 Phantom and the A-7 Corsair II, the F/A-18 Hornet took its first flight Nov. 18, 1978. Today, the F/A-18 platform, including the Hornet, Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, operate in 44 Navy and 11 Marine Corps Strike Fighter and Electronic Attack Squadrons worldwide.
Since its maiden voyage 35 years ago, the F/A-18 family of aircraft has flown 8,692,167 flight hours averaging nearly 250,000 flights hours per year since the historic journey.
Sponsored by the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265), the celebration highlighted the accomplishments and continued impact of the U.S. Navy’s longest running tactical aircraft program.
“The F/A-18 and EA-18G program continues to thrive, it is by far the predominant tactical force for naval aviation,” said Capt. Frank Morley, PMA-265 program manager, “and it will continue to be for many years to come.”
The ceremony’s keynote speaker, retired Vice Adm. Jeffrey A. Wieringa, shared a number of stories based on his experience as a past program manager (April 2000 to May 2003).
“I became a naval aviator in 1977 – just one year before the Hornet entered into service,” said Wieringa. “So, you could say that both the F/A-18 and I earned our wings right about the same time.”
Rear Adm. Donald (B.D.) Gaddis, Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)), also shared thoughts about his time as PMA-265’s program manager and what he believes has made the F/A-18 and EA-18G program so successful.
“We have always had very, very good leadership inside the Hornet industry team, PMA-265 and in the competencies,” said Gaddis. “That successful culture is going to keep us flying as a team until probably 2030 or 2035.”