Hornet Squadron Conducts Airborne Change of Command

Another US Navy fighter squadron conducted a change of command in the air recently.

The “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 held an airborne change of command ceremony above the deployed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) April 27.

Cmdr. Daniel J. Sullivan IV relieved Cmdr. Randy Stearns as VFA 11 commanding officer.

Sullivan and Stearns both flew in F/A-18F Super Hornets assigned to VFA-11 as they read their orders, with Stearns giving the final flight lead to Sullivan as they flew over Enterprise.

Though the Navy seems to do this frequently, more often the outgoing commander passes the flag to the incoming commander during a simple formation change of command.  The “flight lead change” occurring as the aircraft passed the carrier is a unique take on the age-old tradition of transitioning from one commanding officer to another.