A FIRST FOR THE GREYHOUND

WOMAN NAVY PILOT FLIES C-2A

Since the spring of 1973, when women began entering the naval aviation program, a number of female pilots have become Carrier Qualified (CARQUALED) in the C-1A Trader, but LT Jan "Jonnie" Bennett stands out as being the first one to fly the C-2A Greyhound and trap aboard a carrier in it. Born in Spencer Iowa, she was graduated from the University of Colorado where she majored in aerospace technology. After joining the Navy in August 1976, LT Bennett applied for flight training but was first required to undergo major eye surgery in order to qualify. Upon successful completion of surgery, she entered flight school in February 1978, received her Wings of Gold in August 1979, CARQUALED in the T-28 aircraft in October 1979, and then in the E-2C Hawkeye during December 1980.

LT Bennett was assigned to VR-24 at NAS Sigonella, Italy in April 1981 and made her first trap in a C-2A while on deployment in June 1981. Since that time, she has accumulated over 1,000 flight hours (including civilian flying), more than 180 of which are in Greyhounds. LT Bennett also holds the distinction of being the first woman pilot to CARQUAL in the E-2C and the T-28.

Beside being a Navy aviator, her collateral duties at Sigonella are those of VR-24 Line Division Officer.

On the personal side, LT Bennett is married to a Norwegian Air Force pilot who presently flies the P-3 Orion and is stationed in Andoya, Norway, which is located on Norway's northwestern coast above the Arctic Circle. With flying as a family cornerstone, it's not surprising that LT Bennett loves flying the C-2A and intends on making the Navy her career. And judging from her accomplishments thus far, it should be long and successful.

Source: VR-24 Squadron Information

 

 
 FLETACSUPPRON 24 LIFTING EAGLE VR-24    VR-24 C-1A / C-2A C.O.D. Patch
     C-2A GREYHOUND   Bruce C. Thompson  Collection

 

The primary mission of VR-24 was to service the U.S. Navy 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, and when called upon, U.S. Naval Forces operating in other parts of the world. VR-24 and its Detachments delivered freight, mail, and personnel to U.S., NATO, and friendly foreign bases, ports of call, and via Carrier-On-deck-Delivery, to U.S. Navy ships at sea. VR-24 also performed life-saving medical evacuations and disaster relief missions throughout its far-flung areas of operation. To accomplish their mission, VR-24 air crews often flew in and out of airports that had only primitive communications and navigation aids, cargo handling equipment, and ground support services. Missions were often completed under the most adverse weather conditions. COD aircrews providing the vital link between land bases and ship at sea, often operated at maximum ranges from austere remote detachment sites. The men and women of VR-24 met these challenges through hard work, long hours, and innovation. VR-24 soon became known as the "world's biggest little airline" that could deliver .....................ANYTHING, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.

 

YEAR AIRCRAFT CARRIER C-2A BuNo (Modex/Side Number) OPERATION REMARKS
1979       CDR Richard J. Palma
1980       CDR Richard D. White
1981 USS AMERICA (CV-66) / VR-24 DET ALPHA  (34) MED CDR D. Coovrey; LT J Brewer; LT T. Biery; LT S. Potts
1982        
1983        
1984        
1985        
1986        
1987        
1988        
1989 USS AMERICA (CV-66) (26) VR-24 DET ALPHA  
1990        
1991        
1992   162143 (JM-24)    LCDR G. Short, CDR A. Murphy
1993        

 

 

C-2A(R) BuNo 162142 of the VR-24 in Sigonella, Italy.

 

C-2A(R) BuNo 162174 and two other C-2A at the Naval Air Station, Sigonella. C-2A Greyhound aircraft of Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons VR-24 and VRC-40 undergo preflight checks prior to takeoff. The VR-24 Greyhounds are the last C-2As of that squadron to leave the station following the decommissioning of VR-24, due to budgetary constraints, after 46 years of service at January 11, 1993. Photo by PH2 John Bivera (National Archives at College Park)

Internet Link to VR-24 related pages: http://vr-24.org/

 VR-24 serves the fleet

Since 1946, VR-24 and the Mediterranean have gone together like baseball and hot dogs, Michael Jordan and Nike, mudslinging and election years. The VR-24 was commissioned in London, England 46 years ago to serve U.S. Naval Forces stationed throughout Europe. Since then, the squadron has been headquartered in Port Lyautey, Morocco; Rota, Spain; Naples, Italy; and finally moved to NAS Sigonella in 1976. Once known as the “World’s Biggest Little Airlines”, VR-24 at one time represented 5 aircraft types and four aircraft communities simultaneously; reciprocating engine (C-1), turboprop (C-130, C-2), turboshaft (RHO-53), and turbojet (CT-39). Both HC-4, based here, and VR-22, flying C-130’s out of Rota, can trace their humble beginnings to VR-24. Like it or not, all three squadrons related and friendly rivalries aside, all share the same basic mission: service to the Fleet.

Today, the “lifting Eagles” fly only two types of aircraft, the C-2A and the CT-39. Since a wartime high of 8 C-2’s in 1991, the squadron presently operates with half that amount. Unlike times of war when the Sixth Fleet needs mail, passengers, and cargo, in times of peace these logistic requirements are shifted drastically to include mail, passengers and cargo. The point being, in times of war and peace, the morale, operational readiness, and mission capability by continued logistic support. One year ago VR-24 worked directly in support of Operation “Provide Comfort” with its C-2’s and CT-39’s. Two of three deployed C-2’s supported the Roosevelt and Forrestal carrier battle groups with daily service flights. This summer, with only four C-2’s to work with, VR-24 has provided two to three flights daily for the Saratoga. VR-24 completed over 97% of its mission in July and to do so with such limited assets is nothing short of outstanding.

While 1991 was one of the most demanding in VR-24 history, the squadron has not taken a “riposo” (nap) in 1992. In the first half of 1992, the Lifting Eagles have carried over 8,000 passengers (compared to 14,000 for all of 1991) and 1.4 million pounds of mail and cargo to satisfied customers throughout the Med and Middle East. With less planes work with, Maintenance Control is at times put through the wringer trying juggle foreseen and unforeseen aircraft down-time with a flight schedule that would challenge even the most super of eight aircraft squadrons.  

On the T-39 side of the house, the “T-Birds” have been busy as every transporting high-ranking military officials and dignitaries throughout the European theater.

Along with flights to the Saratoga and her battle group, VR-24 in it’s C-2A, presently operates the only NAVY medium lift, long-range platform in the Med. With cargo capability of 10,000 pounds and the ability to carry 26 passengers, the C-2A is the perfect aircraft for transporting ship’s personnel, detachment packouts, and high priority CASREP parts, that is, parts affecting mission readiness( ie., a Sicilian bar with a broken Cappo machine).  

As it has for the past 46 year, VR-24 continues to service the Sixth Fleet with reliability and style, albeit with a few less planes. As long as there is even one plane on the VR-24 flight line, the quadron will do everything in its power to care of the fleet, for in takin care of the fleet, we are talking care of our own, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

By LT Dean Collins VR-24 PAO

 

C-1A at Frankfurt Rhein Main air base in Germany 1982. Boerries Burkhardt Collection.

 

CT39-G of the VR-24 at Naples in 1974. Boerries Burkhardt Collection.

 

RH-53D BuNo 158692 JM-52 of the Lifting Eagles in Catania. Bradshaw C-2A BuNo 162154 in the background.