Naval Aviation is renowned for the demands it places upon its flyers. These skills and concentration required to land a high performance jet onboard an aircraft carrier deck pitching in the black of night, or to track a submarine while flying at only a few feet above stormy seas, are linked to a solid academic background and top physical conditioning. There is more to it than that; it requires a combination of talents and dedication that many people possess, but few are challenged to use to full measure.
NROTC graduates are selected for flight training during their final year of school based on their grade point average, Aviation Selection Test Battery scores (link opens in new window), and whether or not they are physically qualified (link opens new window). All are volunteers. Before commencing flight training, Student Naval Aviators must successfully complete the Introductory Flight Screening program. After IFS, they arrive at Naval Air Station Pensacola to begin the Aviation Indoctrination (AI) program. This course involves academic training in aerodynamics, engineering, air navigation, aviation physiology, and water survival, as well as physically challenging practical applications of physiology and water survival training.
Upon completion of AI, a Student Naval Aviator (SNA) is assigned to one of five navy training squadrons for primary flight training using the T-34C Turbo Mentor, a single-engine turbo prop aircraft, or the T-6 Texan JPATS. Primary flight training includes the basics of contact, instrument, formation, and aerobatic flying. After successful completion of primary training, student aviators are selected for their community pipeline and move on to the intermediate phase. Selection is based on personal preference, individual flight performance and the needs of the service at that point and time. Student pilots will be selected for one of five pipelines: Strike (tactical jets), E-2/C-2, Maritime, E-6, or Rotary wing (helicopter). Upon completion of their intermediate training, SNAs are awarded their wings and proceed to specific Fleet Readiness Squadrons for specialized training in their aircraft, either fixed wing (including the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-6BProwler, P-3 Orion, C-130 Hercules, E-2C Hawkeye, C-2Greyhound) or rotary wing (SH-60 Seahawk, H-53 Sea Stallion, H-46 SeaKnight, H-2 Sea Sprite, H-3 Sea King).
AVIATION - FLIGHT OFFICER
Upon completion of AI, a Student Naval Flight Officers (SNFOs) report to the NFO training squadron (VT-10) in Pensacola, Florida. VT-10 is the largest training squadron in the Naval Air Training Command providing fourteen weeks of intense training using the T-34C Turbo Mentor, a single-engine turboprop aircraft. Students learn visual flight rules and basic airmanship while accumulating an average oftwenty-two hours of flight time over eight flights. Additionally, they go through an extremely extensive ground syllabus concentrating on navigation and aircraft electronic systems. Flight simulators are alsoextensively used.
After the successful completion of primary flight training, SNFOs proceed to tactical navigation intermediate training which may be continued in VT-86 at Pensacola, Florida or at the 562nd Flight Training Squadron, which is the Air Force's joint training squadron located at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. Training will include flight time in the T-34C, the T-6, the T-39N, a multiplace twin-jet operated by civilian contractors, or the T-1A Jayhawk, a multiplacetwin jet used by the Air Force.
Those selected for training in the 562nd FTS will fly an average ofeighty additional hours in the T-43A (a modified Boeing 737) developingskills in long range, over-water navigation using celestial, inertial,and radio navigation. After twenty-two weeks, SNFOs are awarded theirwings and proceed to Fleet Readiness Squadrons to train for navigator slots for the P-3 Orion patrol plane, EP-3 Aries electronic reconnaissance aircraft, C-130 transport, or E-6 strategic communications aircraft.
Those not selected to join the joint Air Force training squadron will remain in Pensacola in VT-86 for an additional fourteen weeks of training including fifty additional flight hours in the T-34C, the T-39N, a multiplace twin-jet operated by civilian contractors, or theT-1A Jayhawk, a multiplace twin jet used by the Air Force. SNFOs who complete intermediate training will be selected for one of three training pipelines: Strike, Strike/Fighter, or Aviation Tactical Data System.
Introductory Flight Screening
The Introductory Flight Screening Program (IFS) is a new program that the U.S. Navy has developed in order to reduce Naval flight training attrition rates. Those midshipmen who select Pilot in their senior year are required to participate during their last semester of college, as long as they are in good academic and physical standing and do not have a heavy course load during their last semester. This program is currently only funded for Student Navy Pilot selectees. This program may be extended to Student Naval Flight Officer selectees inthe near future.
The U. S. Navy's IFS Program utilizes FAR Part 141 certified pilot schools to screen prospective Naval Aviators for the skills and attributes necessary to successfully complete Navy primary flight training. IFS provides Student Naval Pilots (SNP) with 25 hours of civilian aviation flight training and associated ground training prior to beginning the Naval Aviation training pipeline (Preflight Indoctrination). Students enrolled in IFS must meet the following program requirements: solo within 36 days; solo within 15 flight hours; complete at least three solo flights; complete one solo cross country flight; fly a minimum of 2.0 solo flight hours; fly a minimum of 24.0 total flight hours; complete the program within 60 days (commissioned officers) or 100 days (midshipmen).