HONG KONG -- Sailors from the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, looked into the potential future of Chinese aviation during a community relations (COMREL) event with the Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps (HKACC) Nov. 9.
The HKACC is a uniformed organization founded in 1971, based on a British club that teaches young men and women between the ages of 11 to 21 leadership, teamwork, service and skills that can be practically applied to both government and civilian aviation industries.
"We do physical training, uniform inspections, and our students get to ride in helicopters and gliders. Then may even get internships in programs around the world," said Jason Pang, one of the group's adult instructors.
On this particular day, the HKACC students received an education about U.S. naval aviation from George Washington Sailors. The Sailors briefly learned about the purpose of the HKACC, and then shared stories about their lives and jobs on board George Washington.
"COMRELs are fun because it gets you out of the tourist areas, and helps you really learn about the country you are visiting," said Lt. j.g Jessica Sheffield, the intelligence department division officer.
Part of that learning experience came as George Washington Sailors helped students with a leadership project. The students divided into five groups, and the COMREL participants from George Washington were then assigned to each group. The groups then had to make a parachute that could get an egg safely to the ground using only twine, a small towel, newspaper and a plastic bag.
"I've done a COMREL every time I've come to Hong Kong, but this was the first time I got to work with local students," said Senior Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate Patrick Westerlund, from Los Angeles.
The event ended with one group's egg making it to the ground in tact, but with smiles on the faces of all the participants, Sailor and Air Cadet alike.
"This was so much fun, I'm really glad I got to visit these kids," said Culinary Specialist Brittany Coleman, from Chicago.
George Washington and CVW 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.