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Naval Flight Officer
Naval Aviation is renowned for the demands it places upon its flyers. The skills and concentration required to land a high-performance jet on board 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 not only linked to a solid academic background or to 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.
Graduates of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) are selected for flight training during their final year of school. All are volunteers. They arrive at Naval Air Station Pensacola to begin the Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) 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 API, 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 Turbomentor, a single-engine turboprop aircraft. Students learn visual flight rules and basic airmanship while accumulating an average of twenty-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 also extensively used.
After the successful completion of primary flight training, SNFOs proceed to tactical navigation intermediate training which may be continued at VT-86 in 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-39N, a multiplace twin-jet operated by civilian contractors, or the T-1A Jayhawk, a multiplace twin-jet used by the Air Force.
Those selected for training in the 562nd FTS will fly an average of eighty additional hours in the T-43A (a modified Boeing 737) developing skills in long range, over-water navigation using celestial, inertial, and radio navigation. After twenty-two weeks, SNFOs are awarded their wings 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 at 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 the T-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.