Gloucester native now a Navy flier

by Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach - Posted on May 15, 2019 - 02:58 PM

Photo: Gloucester native Lt. Ryan Aiken flies one of the Navy’s most advanced warplanes. Navy photo

Gloucester native Lt. Ryan Aiken flies one of the Navy’s most advanced warplanes. Navy photo

A 2008 Gloucester High School graduate and Gloucester native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron that flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes. 

Lt. Ryan Aiken is a pilot with the Gladiators VFA 106, which operates out of Naval Air Station Oceana. A Navy pilot is responsible for the tactical employment of the Super Hornets. 

Aiken credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons leaned growing up in Gloucester. “My dad taught me to work hard and be a leader, not a follower,” said Aiken.

Members of VFA 106 Fly and maintain the F/A Super Hornet, which takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers at sea, and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as striking targets on land.

The Super Hornet is approximately 61 feet long, has a loaded weight of 51,000 pounds and a maximum speed of 1,190 miles per hour. The versatile jet has the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland.

Super Hornets are an all-weather aircraft used as an attack aircraft as well as a fighter. In its fighter mode, the F/A 18 is used primarily as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense. In its attack mode, it is used for interdiction and air support.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Aiken is most proud of earning an air medal in recognition of combat employment.

“For me, it validated all of the hard work that I had done to get to that point,” said Aiken. “It is the recognition of my part in Operation Inherent Resolve.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Aiken, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Aiken is honored to carry on the family tradition. 

“My grandfather was in the Navy,” said Aiken. “It’s cool when my grandmother talks about his service. It is still similar to what I do today.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Aiken and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy gives me a sense of pride,” added Aiken. “The Navy is the one true global force where we can go anywhere in the world. I am proud to be a part of it.”