New commander inspires aviators
TRAINING COMMANDER – U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mark S. Kinnane strolls past a row of aircraft at Naval Air Station Meridian. Kinnane is commander of the VT-7 squadron and is responsible for the training of fighter pilots for the Navy, the Marine Corps and some U.S. allies. Photo by William F. West/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Aug. 5, 2002
Cmdr. Mark S. Kinnane's love of aviation dates back to when he was growing up in Memphis and his Aunt Rosemary was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines.
The 45-year-old is looking forward to serving as commander for the next 11/2 years of the VT-7 squadron at Naval Air Station Meridian. He is overseeing the training of pilots for the Navy, the Marine Corps and such U.S. allies as Brazil, France, Italy and Spain.
Kinnane's squadron has 66 T-45C Goshawks, 65 instructors and 145 student naval aviators. Training lasts 37 to 50 weeks at NAS; after that, aviators receive additional training at other bases.
Choosing the Navy
Before joining the Navy, Kinnane earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Kinnane recalled seeing the career and job recruiters one day.
Kinnane was commissioned an ensign in December 1981; the next month he reported to Pensacola for flight training. In June 1983, he earned his Wings of Gold at NAS Meridian.
From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, he was deployed to some of the Navy's most important ships and also trained carrier pilots in warfare.
Kinnane also served as air operations officer aboard the USS Kitty Hawk in Japan and earned a master's degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.
Returning to Meridian
Kinnane returned to NAS Meridian in March 2001 as executive officer of VT-7. And last month, he formally relieved Cmdr. Mark J. Sherlock, who was assigned to the Kitty Hawk.
Although Kinnane appears easygoing and friendly, he still commands loyalty and respect from trainers and students.
Kinnane credits his father, Robert, who served in the Army during the Korean War.
Kinnane was asked whether he would like to continue working for the Navy.