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Marine Corps Aviation

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Life as a Marine Officer

AIR

Pilot: After training for up to 16 months at flight school in Pensacola, Florida, you'll be assigned to an aircraft in your area of expertise. Whether you fly a fixed-wing, rotary-wing or tilt-rotor aircraft, you'll be at the controls as one of the elite pilots of the world.

Naval Flight Officer (NFO): You will train for 8-10 months at flight school in Pensacola, Florida, to master navigation, radar, on-board computer control, electronic warfare measures, and weapons system control. Once assigned to an aircraft, you'll provide the pilot with the vital information necessary to fly though any conditions

Becoming a Marine Corps Pilot

The process of becoming a Marine pilot is arduous and competitive. Here are some of the hurdles prospective pilots have to clear:

Education

Pilots need at least a bachelor’s degree, earned either at a civilian college or university or through the U.S. Naval Academy, as the Marine Corps does not have its own service academy.

Commissioning

Pilots must be officers commissioned at the rank of second lieutenant. Prospective pilots should contact a local selection officer to inquire about the steps for becoming an officer in the Marine Corps and let the officer know they are interested in pursuing the Marine aviator track.

Age Requirements

Aviator candidates must be at least 18 years old when enlisting, at least 20 years old when entering an officer candidate program and no older than 27 years old when receiving their commissions.

Citizenship

Marines must be citizens of the United States. If a prospective Marine is not a citizen, he or she may apply to become one upon enlistment — regardless of time lived in the U.S. — due to an executive order signed by President Bush in 2002 expediting the naturalization process for members of the military.

Testing

Any Marine seeking entry into officer training programs must have a combined Math and English SAT score of at least 1,000, a composite ACT score of 22 or an Armed Forces Qualification Test score of at least 74 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. He or she also must pass the Navy/Marine Corps Aviation Selection Test Battery to become a Marine pilot.

Physical Condition

Prospective pilots must be in good physical and psychological health and must take a physical.

Flight School

After completing Officer Training School or Platoon Leaders Class, an aviator candidate will have a guaranteed spot in flight school in Florida, where his or her training will proceed in stages:

Pre-indoctrination: This six-week phase includes an introduction to aerodynamics, aviation physiology, engines, navigation and land and sea survival in classrooms at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

Primary flight training: A candidate’s first in-air experience is at Whiting Field in Milton, Fla., in a T-34C. Prospective pilots each spend 67 hours in the air, including four solo flights, as well as 27 hours on a flight simulator. Another 166 hours of classroom work attending flight support lectures round out the instruction. At the close of this training, candidates are picked, partly based on grades and aptitude, for flight training on one of three aircraft: jets, helicopters or turbo-props.

Intermediate Training: Those selected to fly helicopters or turbo-props will receive an additional 26 hours of instruction on the T-34, with emphasis on radio and navigation training. Those selected to fly jets will proceed to the Naval Air Station in either Kingsville, Texas, or Meridian, Miss. There, they will take five weeks of ground school, including instruction in meteorology, visual flight rules and safety. From there, trainees will progress to the T-2C or T-45 for hands-on training in aerobatics, gunnery, radio communication and catapult take-offs.

Advanced Training: Jet pilots will then spend 92 hours in the TA-4 or T-45, focusing on performing combat maneuvers and night flights. Those with a concentration in turbo-props will head to Corpus Christi, Texas, for a 20-week course that requires 88 hours flight time on the multi-engine T-44 Beech Queen Air. Another 20 hours of instruction using flight simulators and 182 hours of classroom time are also required. Those bound for helicopters will report to South Whiting Field to do their flight training on the TH-57B/C Bell Jet Ranger, where they’ll log another 116 hours in the air. After this phase, candidates finally earn their wings.

 

 

 

        

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