Rear Adm. John F. Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, invited the Commanding Officer of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Capt. J.J “Yank” Cummings to the latest episode of his podcast, All Things Naval Aviation, Feb. 9, 2021.
Meier, the Ford’s first CO, recently visited the ship, and observed the carrier’s utilization of the new, innovative arresting gear and launching systems, as well as the first use of Precision Landing Mode for carrier qualification on the F/A-18 Super Hornets.
“Watching the new CAT-1 pilots qualify for the first time,” said Meier. “I was really, really impressed. [The Precision Landing Mode] not only improves the margin of safety for our pilots, but also their performance.”
On the podcast, Cummings spoke about how he prioritized getting the warship up-to-speed on all of its sea and air trials, preparing for deployment readiness. He and Meier also discussed the Ford’s success in completing more than 6,000 carrier landings since January 2020. Cummings’ highest priority; however, was contributing to the Navy as a whole through the qualification of hundreds of naval aviators.
“That’s been our best attribute this last year,” Cummings began. “Is giving back by generating fleet readiness, we’ve qualified about 400 students. That’s been great for our crew, knowing they’re giving back to the fleet.”
Meier and Cummings later touched on the influence that the 38th president, Gerald R. Ford and his personal history, has had on them. Cummings noted that three and a half years ago, as he crossed the Ford’s bow for the first time, he didn’t know all of the details of Gerald R. Ford’s personal history. However, as he learned more about the man, he gained a new appreciation for him, the ship, and the ship’s motto that Meier himself helped cultivate: “Integrity at the Helm.”
“By having ‘Integrity at the Helm’ on our uniform; that speaks directly to Gerald R. Ford as a man,” Cummings said. “You have that ‘Integrity’ aspect reflect on our Sailors, and how they carry themselves throughout the ship – that they represent not just themselves, but the United States Navy, and more importantly, Gerald R. Ford.”
Now, with his own tour on the ship coming to an end and his leadership turnover imminent, Cummings invited Meier to attend his change of command ceremony as a special guest. Meier will say a few parting words at the ceremony this Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.
“It’s going to be bittersweet,” Cummings said. “I was happy to be a part of the team, and I left everything out on the field. I think it was Dr. Seuss who said, ‘Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened.’”
As the podcast closed, Meier had this to say to Cummings, “They’re actions, not just words,” Meier said. “The work that you and the team have done on Ford … Driving the future of naval aviation, you’ve been leading that charge.”