Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA)
Naval Air Training Command (NATRACOM)
The Naval Air Training Command (NATRACOM) is spread across five Naval Air Stations in Florida, Mississippi and Texas.The NATRACOM consists of five Training Air Wings (TRAWINGS), 16 Training Squadrons, the Naval Aviation Schools Command, the Blue Angels and the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
Naval aviation has evolved dynamically since 1910 when Eugene Ely made the first successful takeoff in an aircraft from a Navy vessel. The first flying school was established in 1914 at Pensacola, Florida, and since then, Naval Flight training has kept pace with the needs of the service.
The mission of training prospective aviators and Naval flight officers (NFO) comes under the cognizance of Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA). Headquartered at NAS Corpus Christi, training is coordinated through five training wings. Each wing commander directs the operations of a major air station and its tenant squadrons. The locations of the wing commanders are NASs Meridian, Ms; Pensacola and Whiting Field, Fl; and Corpus Christi and Kingsville, TX. Under these training wings are 16 squadrons, approximately 700 aircraft and 14,000 personnel.
CNATRA trains approximately 1,000 pilots and 300 Naval flight officers each year. More than 100,000 Naval aviators have earned their "wings of gold" since 1910. The pilot training program for college graduates takes about 18 months to complete and the Naval flight officer syllabus takes about 12 months. All students undergo common primary training of 66 flight hours in Pensacola where they are screened for one of three specialty pipelines: helicopters, multi-engine (propellers) or strike warfare (jets).
Major elements of the training program are the T-34C, T-44, T-45TS and T-39, all high performance, fully instrumented training vehicles. Older but still quite functional aircraft's in training inventory include the T-2 and TA4J jet trainers, TH-57 helicopters as well at T-39s and T-43s. Navigation training has been consolidated with the Air Force at Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento, Calif. The CNATRA command includes the world-famous Blue Angels, the Naval Aviation Schools Command and the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
Significant progress has been made in training efficiency but more is yet to come through simulation, integrated syllabi and the application of modern technology. The Naval Air Training command is committed to that course.
All flight training begins at either NAS Pensacola, Florida, the "Cradle of Naval Aviation", or at Vance Air Force Base, as part of a joint USN-USAF training effort. Young men and women report from three recruiting sources: just under 40% come from the U.S. Naval Academy, just over 40% come from Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) units, and just over 20% come from Officer Candidate School (OCS).
Academy, NROTC and OCS students, as well as Air Force, Coast Guard and foreign students, spend six weeks at PreFlight, which challenges the students academically and physically.Classes include engineering, aerodynamics, air navigation, flight rules and regulations, aviation physiology, and water survival.The OCS students also complete 13 weeks of training prior to PreFlight in order to prepare them to become naval officers.During this training, academics, military drill, discipline, and stress training are supervised by Navy and Marine Corps drill instructors.
Upon completion of PreFlight, Student Naval Aviators (SNA) and Student Naval Flight Officers (SNFO) proceed to their separate primary training pipelines.
Primary teaches the SNA the basics of flying. For Navy and Marine Corps SNAs, there are three choices for Primary. The Navy offers training at either Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, FL, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, TX, or Joint Training with the Air Force at Vance AFB in Oklahoma. All Naval Air Stations use the T-34C Mentor to train, and Vance Air Force Base uses the T-37B to train for Primary. The SNA learns visual flight, basic instrument flying, introduction to aerobatics, radio instrument navigation, formation flying, and has several solo flights. All Flight Students go through the same curriculum for Primary. At the end of Primary, the SNA requests the pipeline they would like to enter. There are 5 pipeline choices: Jet, E2/C2, Maritime Prop, Helicopter, and E-6 TACAMO.
Intermediate Flight Training is different for each of the 5 platforms chosen upon completion of Primary Training. Crews learn more about navigation and air traffic control by flying to other training bases. Intermediate training for the single seat aircraft such as the jet platforms will focus on individual skills, while the multi-seat platforms such as maritime props, helicopters, and E2/C2 will focus on crew coordination.
Advanced Flight Training is the final stage in earning wings. Crew learn skills specific to the chosen platform such as air to air combat, bombing, search and rescue, aircraft carrier qualifications, over water navigation, and low level flying.
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