A fab job as a Navy Pilot

Ever dream of flying the most technologically advanced jets off a carrier, patrolling the skies looking for enemy submarines, or rescuing people in helicopters?  Imagine having a secure job with full benefits and excellent pay.  Sound good yet? 

How about traveling around the world at the expense of the U.S. military?  Sound even better? 

If so, then think about joining the United States Navy as an Officer and pursuing a career as a Naval Aviator.  Where else can you have this much fun?  Especially while getting paid to do a job that you love and that is rated second to none!

Becoming a Navy pilot is a competitive field to get into; however, those who succeed have a very rewarding lifestyle. 

It all starts in school. First, you have to be dedicated and receive good grades. You will need to attend college, including at least the last two years at a four year institution. (You can attend a two year junior/community college for the first two years.)  Roughly a 3.0 or B average is needed to be considered competitive. 

You will also need to take the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) given by your local Naval/Marine recruiter and pass a physical from the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).

After graduating from college the prospective Navy/Marine officer candidate attends Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Pensacola, Florida, known to many as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation." This is a 13 week school that will prepare you to undergo the transformation from civilian life to military life.

You will learn many things at OCS including: 

  • Teamwork
  • Naval History
  • Seamanship
  • Military Law
  • Weapon Usage
  • Physical Fitness
  • Leadership
This program is for those who are not already commissioned officers or those who have not graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Upon successfully completing OCS, the newly commissioned ensign attends a school called Aviation Pre Indoctrination or Advanced Pilot Indoctrination (API) also located in P-cola.  There the aspiring aviator spends six weeks learning about topics such as: 

  • Meteorology
  • Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's)
  • Aerodynamics
  • Flight Physiology
  • Land and Water Survival
The end of API marks the beginning of flight training.  The pilot candidate can choose to attend primary flight training in either NAS Whiting Field (located in sunny Florida just outside of Pensacola) or Corpus Christi, Texas. 

Another route, especially for those with prior flight experience is to participate in Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (JSUPT).  This program is affiliated with the United States Air Force. 

During primary flight training, you can expect to learn how to:

  • Talk on the radios
  • Solo
  • Fly in formation
  • Perform aerobatics 
Primary flight training is the most important step in determining your career path in the navy.  Selection for the pipeline of your choice (e.g. jets, props, helos) depends on first and foremost the needs of the Navy, then your flight grades, and finally luck.

After primary, the pilot goes onto intermediate and advanced flight training.  Those that select jets will most likely attend NAS Meridian in Mississippi, or NAS Kingsville in Texas.  Those that select props will go to NAS Corpus Christi in Texas.  Those selecting helicopters will undergo advanced flight training in NAS Whiting Field in Florida.

Finally it's graduation day.  After about two years of training you will receive the coveted "Wings of Gold."

Click here to find a career you can be passionate about

by Kelly Grainger

Kelly Grainger is a freelance writer based in Daytona Beach, Florida.

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