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New ‘Air Boss’ Takes Charge Of Naval Aviation At Coronado

The Blue Angels fly over Naval Air Station North Island during a change of co...

Photo by Steve Walsh

Above: The Blue Angels fly over Naval Air Station North Island during a change of command ceremony, January 11, 2018.

The new commander took charge of U.S. Naval Aviation Thursday morning.

Coronado is the headquarters for U.S. Naval Aviation. The change of command from Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker to Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller was marked with fanfare, including a flyover by the Blue Angels, at Naval Air Station North Island.

As the new “Air Boss,” Miller takes over a force that struggled to get to the bottom of physiological episodes that grounded some naval aircraft last year. Miller said the Navy has isolated the cause among training aircraft. They’re still looking at problems with some older F-18s, he said.

RELATED: Naval Command In Coronado Grounds Trainer Aircraft Fleet After Pilots Refuse To Fly

“Right now, it appears to be a series of things, but we’re tackling those things as we move forward,” Miller said.

The military in general is finding it harder to retain pilots. The Navy is not exempt.

“What we continue to do is provide a compensation packages to make sure we incentivize the behaviors that we need,” Miller said.

Video by Nicholas Mcvicker

The No. 1 issue on the agenda for the new air boss is improving readiness.

“We need to train,” he said. “We’re doing a great job with what we send forward. (The carrier strike group) Carl Vinson just departed and trust me she was ready for whatever comes her way. We need to do the same thing for everybody who is on the bench.”

That includes having enough planes available to fly after years of deferred maintenance has grounded aircraft. The change of command ceremony traditionally happens on board an aircraft carrier but all the carriers based in San Diego are deployed, so the ceremony happened at Naval Air Station North Island.

The outgoing commander, Shoemaker, is retiring after a 35-year career, including nearly three years as head of naval aviation.

The change of command for naval aviation comes as the Navy faces key challenges including readiness and a looming pilot shortage.

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