On July 21-22, 2005, I had the privilege to fly out from North Island Naval Air Base aboard a Navy C-2 "COD" and land on the deck of the Navy's newest and most advanced nuclear aircraft carrier, The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan as a Distinguished Visitor of the United States Navy and member of the Dallas Council of the United States Navy League, qualifying me for membership in the elite Tailhook Association. During our stay, we participated in Flight Deck Operations, Night Ops, toured the ship and met her crew. This experience was truly life changing, as we got the opportunity to see America's finest in action. When speaking with the ship's captain, CAPT James Symonds, I discovered his interest in music and I shared my feelings of inspiration. The following day we experienced the thrill of a catapult launch from deck, from a standing stop to 128 MPH in flight in less than 3 seconds!
Upon my return, I found initial inspiration in the ship and crew itself, and composed The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan for the captain and crew of CVN-76 as their ship's anthem. The first performance of this work is planned during a parade in October, 2005 using the recording linked below.
Above is a photo sequence I took on deck as an F-18 Super Hornet landed 20 feet from me. The power, size, speed and precision of the aircraft, ship and mission are indescribable in words, I only hope to be able to capture the emotions of this experience in a new composition for the US Navy Band and/or symphonic orchestra, tentatively entitled Carrier! in 2006.