Written by admin on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012
Okay, now that you’ve been commissioned as a Naval Officer and selected to start training to become a Naval Aviator, what happens next? You’ve made the grade, you’ve spent the better part of the last four years in college studying and learning about what it takes to become a Naval Officer, when do you actually get to start flying? Well, in this week’s blog we’ll learn the basics of flight school and the process that it takes to earn the Navy Wings of Gold.
All Student Naval Aviators (SNA) must start their journey in Pensacola, Florida where they will start their track in Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API). Here they will learn about the basics of aviation in classes of Aerodynamics, Aircraft Engines, Weather, Navigation, and Flight Rules/Regulations. The intent of API is to introduce basic concepts of aviation and begin the rigorous selection process. All SNAs then report to either Whiting Field in Florida or Corpus Christi in Texas for Primary Flight Training. Primary Flight Training is the start of flying for all SNAs and they are either slated to fly the T-34C Turbo Mentor or T-6B Texan II.
In Primary Flight Training SNAs are given instruction on flight basics, navigation, instrument flying, formation, night flying, and precision aerobatics and compete for limited Strike slots (or Jet Training). In addition to ground school test results, flight performance determines whether a SNA will make the grade to continue their quest to fly jets.
Intermediate and Advanced Training takes place in either Meridian, Mississippi or Kingsville, Texas and all students learn to fly the T-45 or T-45C Goshawk. The T-45C is a modern aircraft with a totally glass cockpit that prepares students for follow-on aircraft like the FA-18A+, FA-18C or FA-18E/F. The T-45 Goshawk is the SNAs first opportunity to actually perform a carrier landing on an aircraft carrier. As with all steps in flight training, SNAs are graded on each event and their grades determine their selection preference for aircraft, the better the grades the more likely they are to have their pick of aircraft. Today, students are given their choice of either east coast or west coast Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) and aircraft to include FA-18A+/C Hornet, FA-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler or EA-6B Prowler.
After completing all training events and successfully qualifying as a “carrier aviator”, the SNAs graduate to becoming winged Naval Aviators. The winging ceremony signifies the end of an arduous training track and the successful completion of their quest to attain their Wings of Gold.
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