Earlier this week after Monday's post (thank you so much to everyone for your kind comments and messages-so encouraging) I promised a "Flight School Crash Course" post so that any of you who are not familiar with the navy aviation lingo could have a reference. I didn't have any military background before I met John but I have slowly been learning the language since we first started dating, and I will always do my best to unpack it here when I write about the Navy. I also thought that a post about flight school would be helpful to our dear friends and family so that they can keep track of John's progress and have an idea of where he is at. So, without further ado:
The Gallivant's Crash Course to Navy Flight School
Introductory Flight Screening is the first phase of flight school for people who don't have their private pilot's license already. John started IFS in November and finished in the beginning of February. During IFS, students complete 14 hours of flight training, and have to pass an FAA Private Pilot test, as well as complete a solo flight. When aviation students first get to Pensacola they are assigned to a local airport-- John was in Foley, Alabama. The length of IFS varies, because it depends on how backed up the program is and weather. Can't take student pilots up when the weather is dicey! This can be a bit frustrating, but it is something that we have learned to just get used to. It's like having snow days constantly--at first they are fun, but eventually you are just ready to get through whatever you are doing. That being said, after I had just moved to Pensacola we got to go on some fun adventures because of John's IFS schedule, and for that I was so grateful.
The Second Phase of Flight School is API, or Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. API lasts for 6 weeks (4 weeks of academics and 2 weeks of survival training) The 4 weeks of academics focus on aerodynamics, aircraft engines and systems, meteorology, air navigation, and flight rules and regulations and there is an exam after each subject. A month may not seem like a long time, but the students have so much information thrown at them and are expected to learn at an incredibly fast pace, with hardly any room for error. This is a point in the flight program that some people do not make it through, as it is essentially a screening process to make sure that these students have what it takes. API requires serious dedication to study, in fact I hardly saw John at all during the academic portion. (I wrote about our API experience in this post.) After Academics are over, API students do two weeks of land and water survival training. If anyone reading this has a spouse or significant other in API or heading into API--don't worry, they will be fine, but do know that it will be a grueling month and you probably won't be able to hang out very much. The nice thing is that a lot of times they may have a few days of lag time between the end of API and the beginning of Primary, and if you are lucky like me than your significant other will be finishing just as the weather is beginning to get nice and you can look forward to a few days of hitting the beach together!
After graduating from API, SNA (Student Naval Aviators) enter Primary Flight Training. There are six different sections of Primary, which lasts roughly 6 months. The sections are: ground school, contact, basic instruments, precision aerobatics, formation, radio instrument navigation, night familiarization, and visual navigation. Students do primary either in Pensacola, at NAS Whiting Field, or NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. John will do primary here in Pensacola, so we won't have to move, which we are pumped about!
After Primary SNA's are selected for the type of aircraft that they will fly for, in most cases, the rest of their Navy career. Advanced takes place at NAS Meridian or NAS Kingsville in Mississippi, NAS Corpus Christi inTexas, or NAS Whiting Field. This could be fixed wing aircraft (planes) or rotary aircraft (helicopters). Once SNAs finish Advance they officially gain their wings and then report to their squadrons as Naval Aviators.
Have any questions or comments? Feel free to comment in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer, or enlist the help of my Navy Pilot.
Happy Thursday, ya'll!
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