Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31

 

Dust Devil Mission

  • Conduct safe, effective, and efficient flight test; representing the needs of our fellow aviators serving in Navy and Marine TACAIR squadrons.

  • Support other test organizations with highly skilled personnel and specially configured aircraft.

  • Provide highly skilled and capable search and rescue support for our aviators and community within the 2508 range complex and Point Mugu Sea Range.

 

Command Philosophy

  • Teamwork is our key to success.  We aim to be an effective team by:

    • Challenging our fellow Dust Devils to excel.

    • Seeking opportunities to build relationships and understand new perspectives.

    • Caring for each other and our families.

 

 

Commander Cassidi Reese

VX-31 Commanding Officer

Cmdr. Cassidi Reese, a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. She holds a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin. She is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Class 139.

Sea tours include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and VFA-11. She deployed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

Reese’s first shore tour was with the “Dust Devils” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31, where she was responsible for System Configuration Sets H8, H8 Phase 2, and H10. She also served as the radar project officer, managing testing for APG-65, 73, and 79 radars. Reese returned to the Dust Devils in November 2017 as the Advanced Sensor Integration Department head, followed by Advanced Weapons Laboratory military deputy in February 2019. She assumed duties as VX-31's chief test pilot in July 2020, and took command of the squadron in March 2022.

Reese has over 2,900 flight hours in 25 different airframes. She was the 2010 junior officer recipient of the CAPT Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award and 2012 VX-31 Test NFO of the Year. Her personal decorations include the Air Medal (two Strike/Flight awards), Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), and Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).

 

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James Coppersmith

Technical Director, VX-31

James Coppersmith, a native of Bellville, Ohio, graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and served 24 years in the United States Marine Corps.

Coppersmith is a 2002 graduate of the United States Navy Test Pilot School (Class 121) and a graduate of the Marine Aviation Tactics and Weapons Squadron- 1 Weapons and Tactics Instructor course in the AV-8B Harrier II+ aircraft.

Coppersmith’s operational experience included Fleet Marine Forces assignments with the VMA-214 “Blacksheep” from 1996 through 2000 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. He deployed with HMM-364 (REIN), 13th MEU (SOC) aboard the USS Boxer (LHD-4) and again with the 13th MEU(SOC) while attached to HMM-161 (REIN) aboard the USS Tarawa (LHA-1). In June of 2000, Coppersmith was assigned to Class 121 at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. 

Upon graduating from Test Pilot School in June 2001, Coppersmith was assigned as an operational test director at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9, where he executed the operational evaluation of the first Joint Direct Attack Munition-capable operational flight program for the AV-8B. During this assignment, Coppersmith attended Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course and concurrently led a Tactics Development and Evaluation effort that introduced JDAM tactics to AV-8B Fleet squadrons. In June 2003, he was reassigned to VX-31 and the AV-8B Joint Systems Support Activity (JSSA).

In January 2006, Coppersmith was selected for the Marine Corps’ Acquisition Management Primary Military Occupational Specialty and assigned to PMA-257 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, as the AV-8B aircraft assistant program manager for Systems Engineering and as the AV-8B US Military Deputy Program Manager in a multi-nation joint development and sustainment program. In June 2009, he was assigned to the Marine Aviation Detachment China Lake-Point Mugu, California, as the detachment’s executive officer and additionally served as the Pacific Ranges chief test pilot. In July 2014, Coppersmith assumed the duties of the officer-in-charge of the Marine Aviation Detachment, where he served until his retirement in June 2016.

Coppersmith left active duty at the rank of lieutenant colonel having flown over 2,200 mishap-free flight hours in over 35 different aircraft. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. 

 

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Cmdr. Bryan Hopper

Executive Officer, VX-31

 

Cmdr. Bryan Hopper graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. Upon completion of flight training, he was awarded his naval flight officer wings in 2002 and subsequently reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 for fleet replacement training in the EA-6B Prowler.

In May 2003, Hopper reported to the “Zappers” of VAQ-130 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). After an extended work-up cycle that included participation in Operation Noble Eagle, the Zappers deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2006, Hopper was selected for the NFO to Pilot transition program. Upon completion of flight training at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, Hopper earned his naval aviator wings and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 for fleet replacement training in the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. In June 2009, he reported to the “Checkmates” of VFA-211 in Oceana, Virgina. As a member of the Checkmates, he made the last two deployments of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn.

In September 2012, Hopper reported to the “Kestrels” of VFA-137 in Lemoore, California for his department head tour. As members of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) team, the Kestrels executed a full work-up cycle that concluded with their participation in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. Following this underway period, the Kestrels began an additional work-up cycle in preparation for the Navy’s three carrier hull swap and Southern Seas deployment. While assigned to the Kestrels, Hopper served as the administrative officer, safety officer, maintenance officer, and operations officer.

Hopper reported to United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany in 2015. During his first year at AFRICOM, Hopper worked in the Joint Operations Center as an operations officer, overseeing and reporting on day-to-day operations across the AFRICOM area of operations. Hopper subsequently moved to the J335 Crisis Operations Branch, where he ultimately served as a Crisis Operations Planning Team lead, directing multi-agency efforts in response to a wide variety of crises on the African continent. His tour at AFRICOM culminated with a tour as a member of the headquarters staff, where he served as the secretary to the Joint Staff, directing cross-organizational tasking to ensure AFRICOM effectively and efficiently fulfilled internal and external mission requirements.

Hopper returned to NAS Kingsville in 2018, where he served as the air operations officer, interim executive officer, and base Emergency Operations Center director. In addition to his normally assigned duties, he flew as a guest instructor supporting Training Air Wing 2. In September of 2021, Hopper reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 as the Executive Officer.

His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (3 Strike/Flight awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various campaign and unit level awards. He has accumulated more than 3,000 total flight hours in various airframes and crew stations.

 

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Cmdr. Christopher Putre

Chief Test Pilot, VX-31

 

 

Cmdr. Chris Putre is a native of Wahiawa, Hawai’i, and received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. After graduation, he attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida; Milton, Florida; and Kingsville, Texas, where he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 2008 and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 for initial F/A-18E/F Super Hornet training.                                         

During his first operational tour assigned to the VFA-147 “Argonauts” at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, he served as the Aircraft Division Officer, Avionics and Armaments Division Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, NATOPS Officer, Mission Planning Officer, Electronic Key Management System Program Manager, and Public Affairs Officer. He deployed in 2011 onboard the USS Ronald Reagan in support of Operations Tomodachi, New Dawn, and Enduring Freedom, and participated in the 2010 and 2012 Rim of the Pacific Exercises.

In 2012, Putre reported to Class 144 of the US Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduating in December 2013, he was assigned to the “Dust Devils” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, where he was Project Officer for the APG-79 AESA Radar, Safety-of-Flight, and System Configuration Sets H8E and H8E(A) development efforts.

Following his tour with VX-31, Putre reported back to NAS Lemoore, California to the VFA-146 “Blue Diamonds” in September 2015 and served as the squadron’s Safety Department Head, Maintenance Officer, and Operations Officer. He deployed onboard the USS Nimitz in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While at VFA-146, he completed his Master of Science Degree in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Putre reported back to the Dust Devils in April 2018, and has served as the Advanced Weapons Laboratory Military Deputy, Military Deputy for Test and Evaluation, and the Advanced Systems Integration Department Head. He assumed his current duties as Chief Test Pilot in March 2022.  

Putre has accumulated 2,400 flight hours in 26 different aircraft and 398 carrier arrested landings. He is a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps and is certified DAWIA Level III in Test and Evaluation. His personal decorations include the Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (three Awards), Navy Achievement Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31

 

Dust Devil Mission

  • Conduct safe, effective, and efficient flight test; representing the needs of our fellow aviators serving in Navy and Marine TACAIR squadrons.

  • Support other test organizations with highly skilled personnel and specially configured aircraft.

  • Provide highly skilled and capable search and rescue support for our aviators and community within the 2508 range complex and Point Mugu Sea Range.

 

Command Philosophy

  • Teamwork is our key to success.  We aim to be an effective team by:

    • Challenging our fellow Dust Devils to excel.

    • Seeking opportunities to build relationships and understand new perspectives.

    • Caring for each other and our families.

 

 

Commander Cassidi Reese

VX-31 Commanding Officer

Cmdr. Cassidi Reese, a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. She holds a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin. She is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Class 139.

Sea tours include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and VFA-11. She deployed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

Reese’s first shore tour was with the “Dust Devils” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31, where she was responsible for System Configuration Sets H8, H8 Phase 2, and H10. She also served as the radar project officer, managing testing for APG-65, 73, and 79 radars. Reese returned to the Dust Devils in November 2017 as the Advanced Sensor Integration Department head, followed by Advanced Weapons Laboratory military deputy in February 2019. She assumed duties as VX-31's chief test pilot in July 2020, and took command of the squadron in March 2022.

Reese has over 2,900 flight hours in 25 different airframes. She was the 2010 junior officer recipient of the CAPT Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award and 2012 VX-31 Test NFO of the Year. Her personal decorations include the Air Medal (two Strike/Flight awards), Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), and Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).

 

Download biography

 

James Coppersmith

Technical Director, VX-31

James Coppersmith, a native of Bellville, Ohio, graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and served 24 years in the United States Marine Corps.

Coppersmith is a 2002 graduate of the United States Navy Test Pilot School (Class 121) and a graduate of the Marine Aviation Tactics and Weapons Squadron- 1 Weapons and Tactics Instructor course in the AV-8B Harrier II+ aircraft.

Coppersmith’s operational experience included Fleet Marine Forces assignments with the VMA-214 “Blacksheep” from 1996 through 2000 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. He deployed with HMM-364 (REIN), 13th MEU (SOC) aboard the USS Boxer (LHD-4) and again with the 13th MEU(SOC) while attached to HMM-161 (REIN) aboard the USS Tarawa (LHA-1). In June of 2000, Coppersmith was assigned to Class 121 at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. 

Upon graduating from Test Pilot School in June 2001, Coppersmith was assigned as an operational test director at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9, where he executed the operational evaluation of the first Joint Direct Attack Munition-capable operational flight program for the AV-8B. During this assignment, Coppersmith attended Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course and concurrently led a Tactics Development and Evaluation effort that introduced JDAM tactics to AV-8B Fleet squadrons. In June 2003, he was reassigned to VX-31 and the AV-8B Joint Systems Support Activity (JSSA).

In January 2006, Coppersmith was selected for the Marine Corps’ Acquisition Management Primary Military Occupational Specialty and assigned to PMA-257 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, as the AV-8B aircraft assistant program manager for Systems Engineering and as the AV-8B US Military Deputy Program Manager in a multi-nation joint development and sustainment program. In June 2009, he was assigned to the Marine Aviation Detachment China Lake-Point Mugu, California, as the detachment’s executive officer and additionally served as the Pacific Ranges chief test pilot. In July 2014, Coppersmith assumed the duties of the officer-in-charge of the Marine Aviation Detachment, where he served until his retirement in June 2016.

Coppersmith left active duty at the rank of lieutenant colonel having flown over 2,200 mishap-free flight hours in over 35 different aircraft. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. 

 

Download biography

Cmdr. Bryan Hopper

Executive Officer, VX-31

 

Cmdr. Bryan Hopper graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. Upon completion of flight training, he was awarded his naval flight officer wings in 2002 and subsequently reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 for fleet replacement training in the EA-6B Prowler.

In May 2003, Hopper reported to the “Zappers” of VAQ-130 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). After an extended work-up cycle that included participation in Operation Noble Eagle, the Zappers deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2006, Hopper was selected for the NFO to Pilot transition program. Upon completion of flight training at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, Hopper earned his naval aviator wings and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 for fleet replacement training in the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. In June 2009, he reported to the “Checkmates” of VFA-211 in Oceana, Virgina. As a member of the Checkmates, he made the last two deployments of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn.

In September 2012, Hopper reported to the “Kestrels” of VFA-137 in Lemoore, California for his department head tour. As members of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) team, the Kestrels executed a full work-up cycle that concluded with their participation in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. Following this underway period, the Kestrels began an additional work-up cycle in preparation for the Navy’s three carrier hull swap and Southern Seas deployment. While assigned to the Kestrels, Hopper served as the administrative officer, safety officer, maintenance officer, and operations officer.

Hopper reported to United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany in 2015. During his first year at AFRICOM, Hopper worked in the Joint Operations Center as an operations officer, overseeing and reporting on day-to-day operations across the AFRICOM area of operations. Hopper subsequently moved to the J335 Crisis Operations Branch, where he ultimately served as a Crisis Operations Planning Team lead, directing multi-agency efforts in response to a wide variety of crises on the African continent. His tour at AFRICOM culminated with a tour as a member of the headquarters staff, where he served as the secretary to the Joint Staff, directing cross-organizational tasking to ensure AFRICOM effectively and efficiently fulfilled internal and external mission requirements.

Hopper returned to NAS Kingsville in 2018, where he served as the air operations officer, interim executive officer, and base Emergency Operations Center director. In addition to his normally assigned duties, he flew as a guest instructor supporting Training Air Wing 2. In September of 2021, Hopper reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 as the Executive Officer.

His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (3 Strike/Flight awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various campaign and unit level awards. He has accumulated more than 3,000 total flight hours in various airframes and crew stations.

 

Download biography

Cmdr. Christopher Putre

Chief Test Pilot, VX-31

 

 

Cmdr. Chris Putre is a native of Wahiawa, Hawai’i, and received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. After graduation, he attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida; Milton, Florida; and Kingsville, Texas, where he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 2008 and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 for initial F/A-18E/F Super Hornet training.                                         

During his first operational tour assigned to the VFA-147 “Argonauts” at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, he served as the Aircraft Division Officer, Avionics and Armaments Division Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, NATOPS Officer, Mission Planning Officer, Electronic Key Management System Program Manager, and Public Affairs Officer. He deployed in 2011 onboard the USS Ronald Reagan in support of Operations Tomodachi, New Dawn, and Enduring Freedom, and participated in the 2010 and 2012 Rim of the Pacific Exercises.

In 2012, Putre reported to Class 144 of the US Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduating in December 2013, he was assigned to the “Dust Devils” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, where he was Project Officer for the APG-79 AESA Radar, Safety-of-Flight, and System Configuration Sets H8E and H8E(A) development efforts.

Following his tour with VX-31, Putre reported back to NAS Lemoore, California to the VFA-146 “Blue Diamonds” in September 2015 and served as the squadron’s Safety Department Head, Maintenance Officer, and Operations Officer. He deployed onboard the USS Nimitz in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While at VFA-146, he completed his Master of Science Degree in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Putre reported back to the Dust Devils in April 2018, and has served as the Advanced Weapons Laboratory Military Deputy, Military Deputy for Test and Evaluation, and the Advanced Systems Integration Department Head. He assumed his current duties as Chief Test Pilot in March 2022.  

Putre has accumulated 2,400 flight hours in 26 different aircraft and 398 carrier arrested landings. He is a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps and is certified DAWIA Level III in Test and Evaluation. His personal decorations include the Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (three Awards), Navy Achievement Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.