“The Old Gal” Retires After 35 Years on the Job

VX-20’s C-2A Greyhound, BuNo 162142, is shown on its last flight, which took place last month. “It’s one of those airplanes that you can just count on,” said CDR Matthew “Cupcake” Tharp, VX-20’s commanding officer. “When we needed it, it came through for us.” (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt)

VX-20, one of the U.S. Navy’s test and evaluation squadrons at the service’s premier air-test facility in Patuxent River, has just retired their Grumman C-2A Greyhound, BuNo 162142, which they lovingly referred to as The Old Gal. The aircraft has been serving faithfully at ‘Pax’ River in both test and support roles since 1992. Old Gal went up for one last hurrah before the cameras before shutting down her engines for the last time on March 19th. She is destined for display at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum with some of the long-serving test airframes at ‘Pax’ in the near future. The type’s original test pilot at Grumman, Dave Seeman, was on hand to witness this fond farewell.

Interestingly, this particular Greyhound was involved in testing the U.S. Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78, as late as this past January when she took part in evaluating the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), a new generation of aircraft catapult driven by a linear induction motor instead of the more traditional, steam-powered versions more typically seen on carriers. Indeed, the Ford is pioneering this style of equipment. EMALS is apparently lighter and easier/cheaper to maintain and, due to its smoother action, less stress-inducing to both the airframe and aircrew it helps hurl into flight. VX-23, also based at Pax River, took part in these same trials, fielding their examples of the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EF-18G Growler to evaluate their performance on the carrier’s new catapult and arresting gear. Interestingly, while the Greyhound performed flawlessly, with no major squawks in its systems, the same was not so true for the latest generation jets involved in the exercise. Indeed, the Old Gal had to fly back to shore to pick up spares for those aircraft!

Another fine study by the legendary photographer, Erik Hilderbrandt, showing the Old Gal in action from October 2017.
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 16, 2017) An E-2D Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

More details on the final flight celebrations are available HERE.

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

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