Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8)
The United States Navy's Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8), along with its sister squadron, HT-18, provides advanced helicopter flight instruction to all Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard helicopter flight students as well as international students from several allied nations. Students who successfully complete the program earn the right to wear the coveted "Wings of Gold."
Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT (HT-8), the Navy's oldest helicopter training squadron, is based aboard Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Florida. Spencer Field is HT-8's primary helicopter training site. HT-8's mission is to provide primary and advanced helicopter training for: US Navy, US Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Allied student naval aviators.
The squadron was initially established at NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida, as Helicopter Training Unit ONE (HTU-1) on Dec. 3, 1950. The squadron was redesignated Helicopter Training Group ONE in March 1957. Later HTU-1 became the eighth squadron in the Naval Air Basic Training Command in July 1960, when it was renamed Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT (HT-8). In 1972, the squadron moved to South Whiting Field and was split to form HT-18, an advanced helicopter training squadron.
In January 1986, the TH-57B model replaced the TH-57A, an aircraft flown by the squadron for seventeen years. HT-8 currently utilizes both B and C models of the Bell TH-57 Sea Ranger.
In 1985 HT-8 underwent a major change. In October, HT-8 and its sister squadron HT-18 became "mirror image" squadrons. Both now instruct the same complete helicopter training syllabus. On 1 November 1985, HT-8 repeated history by winging its first student since moving to Whiting Field in 1972.
Currently sixty-four officers (39 Navy, 21 Marine, 3 Coast Guard and 1 Allied), 20 enlisted, and 4 civilians staff the squadron. HT-8's accomplishments in 1999 include: Flew over 42,372.5 hours; completed 17,662 sorties, including 4,137.3 night and 2,040.0 solo hours. Instructors maintained an average of 48.5 flight hours per month and 527.6 flight hours per year. HT-8 graduated 141 Navy, 90 Marine Corps, 15 Coast Guard, and 12 Allied student naval aviators. Aside from providing quality training for thousands of United States naval aviators, the squadron continues to train student naval flight surgeons as well as provide helicopter indoctrination flights for United States Naval Academy and Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen.
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