Navy Flight School Crash Course

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 

1. IFS

John after his first solo flight.

John after his first solo flight.

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. 

2. API

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!

3. Primary

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! 

4. Advanced

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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The Past Few Weeks + Our Wedding Video

Flight Suit Friday

Happy Monday everyone! We had the most wonderful weekend exploring, relaxing, and enjoying being outside. I have some exciting posts coming up, but first wanted to share a little bit about the past few weeks…

Last friday was a really exciting day for John because he celebrated his Flight Suit Friday! Flight Suit Friday signifies the end of the academic portion of API (Aviation Pre-Flight Indoctrination,) and is the first day that flight students get to wear their flight suits to work.  API is a grind, such a grind in fact that some students don't make it through. Though you can have up to 2 fails, the passing mark is intentionally high, and the material is being thrown at these brilliant men and women at a mile a minute. 

Putting their class patch up in the O Club!

Putting their class patch up in the O Club!



To be honest, the past few weeks have not been the easiest. In fact, they have been hard. Hard in ways that I didn't think we would feel so early in our marriage. I would never want anyone who reads the Gallivant to make the mistake of thinking that our lives are easy all of the time, and marriage is a breeze. I know you don't think that, but I also don't want to seem like I am hiding or glossing over the hard parts. I have always been so grateful when people in my life have been honest with me about hard things, real things, and so I hope to be completely honest with you, my dear readers, and when appropriate--share our struggles, and more importantly, what we are being taught through them. 

I have this bad habit of looking into the future and setting expectations. I could call them goals, or dreams, but what they truly boil down to are expectations. As John and I approached our wedding in the fall,  our future looked like this to me: We would get married, move to Pensacola where John would go through IFS, API, Primary, potentially Advanced, and then we would move to wherever the Navy sends us next once he has his wings. 

In short, we both realized over the course of API, as things didn't go exactly to plan, that we had been holding far too tightly to our expectations. Neither John nor I seriously entertained the idea that the progression we imagined for our immediate future may not unfold so smoothly. But the truth is that sometimes the way our God works is entirely unexpected. API turned out to be much more challenging than we had imagined, and for the past few weeks I have hardly seen John, as he has been studying pretty much 24-7. Every fiber of his being was focused on getting through this phase, and every fiber of my being was focused on supporting him and taking care of him. This has been stressful, and exhausting, but it also brought us to a place of surrender that I don't think we would have been to if not for the trial.  We realized that we needed to let go of our expectations, and ask God what His plan entailed for us, even if the answer may not have been what we expected or wanted. We also realized that in order to make it through the remainder of API we needed to fully rely on the Lord for strength, wisdom, and perseverance. We remembered that Jesus is our peace, and we also remembered how quick we are to forget that. 

In the past three weeks, I have learned so much about being a wife, especially in terms of supporting my husband through a situation that I have no control over. I am learning that an inevitable part of marriage is that there will be times in our life where one of us will be going through something that has the potential to radically affect both of us, and yet the other will be completely helpless in the situation. It's terrifying, the ugly parts of us call it unfair, and yet thats marriage. That is truly cleaving to each other, sharing a life, and choosing to love. 

Friday was a wonderful day and I was overwhelmed with gratefulness as well as pride. I could not be more proud of my husband, as well as relieved to have him back for a few weeks! One of the best parts was that one of my best friends, Emily, was with us to share in the excitement and experience this neat Navy tradition. 

Em and John FSF.jpg

At the end of last week we received the preview to our wedding film, which I am so excited to share with you guys! Our film was done by the incredible Jim Greene of Boston Wedding Films, and we seriously cannot recommend Jim and his team enough. They were wonderful to work with, and truly captured our day in the most thoughtful way. 

In light of the past few weeks, I especially love what our Pastor, Dori, says at the end of our wedding video: "A husband and a wife meeting one another's needs as they look to God for His help--that's a real beauty."

I just want to quickly say thank you to everyone who called, texted, emailed, and visited in the past month. Your words and presence were so encouraging, probably in ways you didn't even realize. 



P.S. Navy lingo throwing you off? Check back into The Gallivant this week for a Flight School crash course! 

P.S.S.P.S. Like what you are reading? Go ahead and subscribe by entering your email address into the form on the left-hand side of this page so that you never miss a post! Or, you can follow me on Bloglovin. Also, follow along with The Gallivant on instagram and pinterest! And Twitter!