A 2009 King’s Academy graduate and Lake Worth native is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced helicopter.
Lt. j. g. Austin Stack is a pilot with the “Airwolves” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 40, a squadron based in Mayport, Fla., that operates the Navy’s next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk. Each helicopter is nearly 65 feet long, can weigh up to 23,500 pounds (max gross) and can travel more than 120 miles per hour for nearly 320 miles on a tank of gas.
As a pilot, Stack is responsible for flying the MH-60R.
“It was a big deal to me — earning my wings,” Stack said. “It was the most time-consuming thing I’ve ever done. In fact, it was more studying than I’d ever done in college. I’m proud to wear my wings today. It’s definitely a good reward for all that work.”
According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the most capable multi-mission helicopter available in the world today. It is used for a variety of missions, including hunting and tracking enemy submarines, attacking enemy ships, search and rescue, drug interdiction, delivering supplies and supporting the Navy’s special operations forces.
The MH-60R is replacing the Navy’s older helicopters because of its greater versatility and more advanced weapon systems.
Stack said his squadron is proud to be part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied within the squadron. Approximately 297 Navy men and women are assigned and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly. This includes everything from maintaining helicopter airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weapons and flying the aircraft.
Serving in the Navy, Stack is learning about being a more respectable leader and person through handling numerous responsibilities.
“I’m proud to serve, and do what others who have gone before me have done,” Stack said. “It’s great that I get to do my part to defend my country.”