Naval aviation or a career as a navy pilot is a promising and challenging one. If you have dreamt of serving in the navy as a pilot, be prepared to face all challenges that come your way with determination, passion and nerves of steel. We describe here what it takes to be a pilot in the navy and how you can pursue your dream of becoming one.
Eligibility criteria to become a navy pilot
The first and foremost criterion for any naval officer is that he/she should be a graduate as per the stipulations of the US Navy. In addition you would also have to pass all the physical and medical tests along with undergoing some tough stages of training.
In a nutshell, an aspirant for the post of navy pilot should:-
- Be a citizen of the country you want to serve
- Enlist in the Navy
- Be between 19 to 27 years of age (some active duty experience could enable you to be considered for a waiver)
- Score high on the ASTB (Aviation selection test battery)
- Have a 20/40 vision which is correctable to 20/20. Must not suffer from color blindness or any problem of depth perception.
- Be in optimal health and bear a good moral character
Even if you qualify the above conditions, you should still rethink before making a final decision about whether you want to be a pilot in the Navy or in the Air Force as both are very distinct services with separate job profiles. Once you have finalized your decision about opting for the career of a Navy Pilot, you need to apply to an officer candidate school in order to get commissioned. However you must remember that you need to be a graduate before you get to wear your officers’ stripes.
Applying for the officer program
Officer programs often involve keen competition and only a few applications are shortlisted and fewer still are selected. A good academic record and active participation in sports and in community service will earn you some bonus points. In the US, you can apply to the following institutes for the officer program:-
- The United States Naval Academy
- Navy (ROTC)
- Officer Candidate School (OCS)
The Navy Academy program is of duration of 4 years consisting of both academics and physical training.
After you graduate from the Naval Academy, there is still a long way to go before you achieve your ambition of becoming a Navy pilot. The next hurdle is to clear the Aviation Selection Test Battery which is a challenging test that assesses your skills in mathematics, your aptitude for aviation and also your sea worthiness. Your performance in this test will decide whether or not you are fit to fly a plane.
Once you have successfully cleared the ASTB, you need to accumulate more than 25 hours of training from a certified flight instructor. It is also mandatory for you to make a minimum of 3 solo flights out of which one is a cross country trip. If you already have a pilot license, you need not go through this step.
The final step
By the time you reach this stage, you would have come close to fulfilling your ambition. Now, you need to apply to your local Navy Flight School where you will complete the remainder of your course which comprises of lectures and physical training. This is also known as air indoctrination course and culminates in intermediate flight training where you may be asked to choose the aircraft you wish to fly.
You would then go on to finish your advanced naval flight training and earn the designation of Navy pilot by being awarded the “wings of gold”. This would make you eligible to receive the final aircraft specific specialized training. Now there’s no looking back as you embark on a demanding, exciting and rewarding career and fulfil your dream of serving the nation.