Becoming a U.S. Navy Aviator


I am an MH-60 Romeo, Navy helicopter, instructor pilot at a fleet replacement squadron. We teach the new students who come in from flight school how to fly that Navy aircraft. I’m also the aviation safety officer responsible for the safety programs to the commanding officer of that squadron. I am Lieutenant Sarah Flaherty and I am a Navy pilot. I first became interested in the Navy when I was researching scholarship opportunities for college and the Navy ROTC scholarship was something that was being offered. I was able to visit a couple of the ROTC units at various colleges. I applied for the scholarship and received a four-year scholarship to College of the Holy Cross. We get to deploy with the Navy during the summer. Naval aviator looked like a pretty cool job. Just the attitude and the cool stuff that they were doing. After college I went to flight school down in Pensacola, Florida. You first start out in a ground school where you learn basic aviation skill sets and you’re also trained in water survival. Then you move on to primary where you learn to fly a fixed-wing aircraft first and really learn the basics of aviation. Once you’re done with that you select – I selected helicopters and I went to the training helicopter that the Navy uses. Not only do I get to fly fun aircraft but the leadership opportunities have been great and that’s just really why I love my job. My squadron’s deployed in support of many humanitarian missions, including Katrina and tsunami relief. During my counter-drug operations cruise I was involved in chasing high-speed boats and doing boardings on suspected drug boats. I’d say the greatest challenge is convincing people that – that women can do this non-traditional job and you can be a pilot in the Navy. I never felt different; I was just a pilot and I think that’s great and I think that it just shows that – that women can do any job that they want to. I’m proud to call myself a Naval Officer and a Naval Aviator. I’ve gained so much experience and I really feel like I’m – I’m going to come away a better person with the skills that I’ve learned and the leadership experience. For anyone who’s thinking about joining the Navy or becoming a pilot, I’d say go for it. My experience in the Navy has been awesome. I get to fly aircraft. I’ve seen places that people – don’t normally get to see. I work with a great group of people. And then I also have the honor of serving my country. The Navy’s had a lot of positive effects on me. I’ve really grown as a person in my time in the Navy. I’ve received training that’s just unrivaled in the civilian sector. And the leadership opportunity is – is something that you don’t get anywhere else in the world.

100 thoughts on “Becoming a U.S. Navy Aviator

  1. @zestfultuba if your old enough to join the military your old enough to decide what branch you want to join, and if your joining to see some action you might not see it in the coast guard. Youll most likely be rescuing idiots who got them self into shit on the water

  2. @SpyOpz94 what are you talking about??? every pilot has a passion for flight… to become a pilot its not just go apply, its grueling tests and retests. Ground testing flight testing etc… If she did not want to be a pilot they would prob throw her behind a desk.

  3. Regardless of the Navy's age limit or other red tape i'll still become a pilot with or without the navy's help. BAH humbug!

  4. @zestfultuba Your cousin lost his legs… so you can't fly and get paid for it? Fuck that logic, Blue and Gold! Honor, Courage, Commitment!

  5. @samsizil Don't let your mom hold you back. Being a pilot is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in your life. Your mom has lived most of her life, don't let her decide what you're going to do or not going to do. You don't have many chances to be a military pilot; there is a age and education limit/prerequisite. Graduate from college and follow your heart. Don't let ANYONE hold you back. College (4 yr degree minimum) is the first thing you need to get out of the way.

  6. @zestfultuba LMAO your mom wont let yu dude grow some balls the navy would be the best thing that ever hapend to you!

  7. Planning on becoming an NFO after I finish college, hopefully ending up in an F/A-18 or EA-6. Don't give a fuck what my mom thinks, lol. Not that she minds in the first place.

  8. You don't get to choose until well into your path. Even then, you don't really choose. You submit a wish list and the Navy/Marine Corps tell you what you get. Hopefully, those match up.

  9. It is like this; all Marine Officers, Coast Guard Officers, and Naval Officers who get lucky enough to go the aviation route go through Naval Aviation Training. All pilots in the Naval services are Naval Aviators and the Nav/Radar/Weapons/Systems Officers are Naval Flight Officers. This pipeline looks like this:

    IFS —> API –> Primary –> Intermediate/Advanced –> FRS/RAG —> Fleet

    So, Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard all train together (there are some Air Force guys and foreign services too).

  10. However, before IFS it is different for each service. Each service has their own specific accession programs; the Navy has OCS, NROTC, and USNA; the Marines have Marine OCS, NROTC:MO, and USNA, and, well I don't know much about the Coast Guard's accession. After initial training, again service specific, all Student Naval Aviators come down to Pensacola to start IFS and API. Marines have to go through something known as TBS first. TBS is 6 months long and teaches basic Infantry Leadership.

  11. Also, your pipeline selection comes at the end of Primary. You can go Rotary (helos), Tilt-Rotor (Ospreys — Marines only), Tailhook/Strike (Jets and the E2 for Navy studs), heavies (C130s, P3s, etc.). At the end of intermediate/advanced you'd select an Airframe and coast, ie a strike wishlist would look like :

    Hornets East
    Hornets West
    Hornets Japan
    Harriers East
    Harriers West
    Harriers Japan
    Prowlers

  12. Your grades at the end of Primary determine what you are eligible for (>50 NSS to be eligible for Jets; <35NSS automatic performance review board and automatic dismissal** for Marines). The week you finish determines whats available; ie. 10 students finish primary 1 week and there are 2 Jet slots, 3 rotary, 4 tilt-rotor, 1 heavy; students complete their wishlists and those wishlists are matched against the slots and with their grades to determine what each student gets.

  13. In the aviation training pipeline right now and I have to say you're a little off base. As a mechanic, you certainly work long hours and have a tough work schedule; especially come high op-tempo. However, there are Marines who are going to be pilots that were sent to Infantry Officers Course and then deployed as Infantry Platoon Commanders to Afghanistan who have worked just as many hours in a week as you have; if not more. I can't speak for the Navy Officers, but its different for us Marines.

  14. To the guy that hates the military(ShySFboy00): We would not want you serving our country anymore than you want in. I don't think not serving makes you less of a Man or Woman, but insulting our military and those who serves makes you a coward and an ungrateful American. From all Americans to you; Thank you for being a civilian. Our country is a better and safer nation for it.

  15. please leave your nationality out when using such poor grammar this is why the other countries are laughing at us.

  16. Canadian air force does require 20/20 or better, but you can wear prescription glasses, I believe the US navy/air force is too, a lot of countries have relaxed since the whole policy of natural 20/20 vision was never scientifically proven. There are certain types of lasik that they won't accept, so check and see what is allowed, If English isn't perfect they may or may not let you in, depending on your skill. Judging by your typing it's a lot better than many I've seen on the internet.

  17. most people do military then commercial, because to got o flight school for commercial is very expensive and its more affordable to fly in the air force and get your licences on the government dime then switch to commercial.

  18. In Germany it is possible to start a career as a commercial pilot right away. I, for example, applied for the airline lufthansa. They pick 200 people a year who make it through the rigorous entry test and train them to become a pilot.for their airline.

  19. Well, let's suppose that the Navy member is a SEAL or some other type who performs missions on dry land. I can think of about 100 logical, common scenarios where a sailor might lose his legs on land in Afghanistan. Comes with having been in the military, and I wasn't even in the Navy.

  20. so you don't need to know how to fly, or have any flight time before entering flight school?
    im interested in ROTC and want to fly jets.

  21. I would love to be a pilot.. But I'm 1 in Submarines. And not an officer.. So not really any chance.

  22. All I want to be is a Naval Aviator. They fly every day on tour while typical Iraqy Air Force pilot flies 2 times a month on average. Naval aviation all the way

  23. That is what i am going for, i am applying for Naval ROTC and i WILL become a navy fighter pilot. Go for it if it is what you really your dream because i know it is mine!

  24. Woman can do anything! As a male, i've never underestimated the potential of woman. It's soo smoothing to see woman break the "scpeticism fence" that men with power made, in believing woman have no role in the Military, or Military Aviation. Go for it girls!

  25. My greatest admiration goes to the aviators. My dream is flying the Super Hornet. I have a BA in Maths with a 3.35 GPA and I've always wanted to assess that in an elite flight program.

  26. Question: I am 16 right now and am starting to look at colleges. Can I just choose any college or should I choose one with a navy ROTC program?

  27. Do naval pilots get to see their families often becuase thats the only thing that concerns me because Im fixing to get married around 25 and I dont want to be that guy who is always away and leaving my wife alone with kids

  28. hamare nau sena ke bas bhi yahi helicopter aa raha hain , bahut achaa helicopter hain. zaldi se mahilao ko bhi pilot banne de de amrika jaise to achaa hoga. jai hind,jai bharti, long live usa

  29. What degree(s) would you recommend to become a pilot? Really interested in joining the navy in that field!

  30. I am now becoming a naval aviator I am in will graduate university in spring 2017. the thing is I did not enroll in any rotc program and I'm a communications and Spanish major. will that be a problem of being a naval aviator? also what asvab score do I need to become a naval aviator?

  31. How likely am I to become a pilot if I enlist after college instead of doing NROTC, are the chances much greater with the ROTC program?

  32. Can someone that is not a U.S citizen become a pilot in the navy? I know that you can enlist when you have a green card or a permanent residence visa, but all the pilots is officers? So does that mean to become a pilot you have to be a citizen or can you still become a pilot even if you only have a green card?

  33. Can someone that is not a U.S citizen become a pilot in the navy? I know that you can enlist when you have a green card or a permanent residence visa, but all the pilots is officers? So does that mean to become a pilot you have to be a citizen or can you still become a pilot even if you only have a green card?

  34. Question:I'm 17 years old I really wanted to be a aviator or pilot i'll accept any aircraft because it's really my dream job.I don't have the money for college,unless if I joined in one of your academy do I need to pay for it?Also what is the physical requirement like how tall do I need to be?

  35. @America's Navy I am color Blind but I can pass the franksworth Lantern test my problem is shades so can I still be a helicopter pilot.

  36. To whoever is reading this, please help! Im going to start off with the cliche "My dream is to be a Naval Aviator", which is true, it is my dream. I literally want it more than anything, I can't even think of words to describe how much I want it. Anyways, my question is, which route would be best on achieving my goals of becoming an aviator, NROTC or OCS?? I've been doing some research and the results are 50/50. Any help?!

  37. Do i have to be good at math?? I wanna fly so bad I love to fly more than anything it's been a Dream all my life to fly but I'm scared I won't have what it takes to fly.

  38. Helo pilots should have a different set of wings to wear .They are not "Naval Aviators" they are Helo pilots .

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