Good afternoon, Fighersweep Fans!  We have big news from the Navy’s West Coast Master Jet Base! This week Strike Fighter Squadron 113 launched its final sortie in the F/A-18C “Legacy” Hornet, which was also the very last Legacy Hornet sortie at Naval Air Station Lemoore near Hanford, California.

Aircraft 300, flown by “Dragon,” was sent to NAS Oceana near Virginia Beach, Virginia. This marks the beginning of the transition for the Stingers to fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet. That means Lemoore is now the first F/A-18 base in the Department of the Navy to exclusively fly the Rhino–another nickname of the Super Hornet. That distinction will be short-lived, as the F-35 should arrive at NAS Lemoore sometime next year.

Guests from all over California’s Central Valley, as well as from the entire Lemoore community, came to say a solemn farewell to the mighty “Charlie.” The sundown ceremony was punctuated with a flyover of runway 14L, perfectly in view from the Stinger’s Hangar on the flightline.

"Dragon" walks out for the very last F/A-18C Hornet flight from NAS Lemoore, California. (Photo courtesy of author)
“Dragon” walks out for the very last F/A-18C Hornet flight from NAS Lemoore, California. (Photo courtesy of author)

The Stingers of VFA-113 were the first squadron in the Navy to fly the F/A-18, hence their motto “The First and Finest.” Their aircraft have been aging along with the rest of the Charlie fleet, but have been reliable workhorses and came through when the time counted. Just this past summer, these jets have returned from a nearly-ten-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Since their return, the jets have been slowly sent to various locations around the country, either for acceptance into a new squadron or for depot level maintenance. Now, the Stingers will join the rest of the west coast fleet with a much more advanced and capable strike-fighter in the single-seat variant of the Super Hornet.

The Stingers’ cruise video from their recent deployment is shown below. As usual, it is filled with great footage of flight deck operations, carrier ops, and of course, lots of targets blowing up in the name of Freedom!

(Featured photo by Jonathan Derden)