Naval Aviator 101

This record will be updated to 2018 standards soon. Keep in mind the original date when reading. With a few exceptions, all details still apply and all broad concepts are up to date. 
April 2018 - N.A.S. Miramar

Although we have now been operating as Third Fleet for well over a year, there seems to be a lot of misinformation about who can fly what, and the confusion generated by that misinformation has reached intolerable levels. So lets keep this notice for future reference, shall we? It is what we do in Third Fleet for over a year now, not some made up, half ass, two bit theory. This is what we do.


1. OCS / RTC
OCS grants access to Primary Flight Training (PFT), until now known as Basic Flight Certification (BFC). Officers will then have the opportunity to engage in higher levels of training regarding flight, enlisted are limited to aircrews.
Both OCS and RTC graduates can take the SLMC NACCS (Naval Aircrew Candidate School) course so they can serve as crew aboard a variety of aircraft, for which further practice will be provided with the squadrons they apply for. In some instances aircrews will further their practice by taking specialty courses.

Student Naval Aviator Candidates (SNAs) are deployed to their stations/facilities/bases and start to fly immediately with the primary squadron they are assigned to. They can and should integrate the structure immediately - this is Second Life and we are here to have fun flying above all.
Not only Cargo pilots and Rotary Wing pilots but also JET PILOTS can fly with operational squadrons all through their path to the Gold Wings, under supervision from the older officers in full active duty - we call this stage conditioned duty, as some may not have the knowledge to perform fully and need practice and training. The more practice each squadron can provide locally the better. Keep in mind Third Fleet methods as they are taught in BFC and IFT should be the norm when instructing SNAs with their squadrons during practice. At this very same time SNAs should be taking BFC or IFT, thus allowed to practice while in their assigned squadrons.

2. Primary Flight Training: Pre-Flight Indoctrination School and Primary Flight School
Until now known as Basic Flight Certification (BFC), Primary Flight Training (PFT) is the first stage for the Student Naval Aviator (SNA) and it has two steps: Pre-Flight Indoctrination (PFI) and Primary Flight Training (PFT).
It is taken right after OCS and it has been provided by lead 7th Fleet instructors with support from 3rd Fleet NATC's instructors from Miramar. Theory is given at NAS Miramar or the USS Kitty Hawk and practice at NAF Eagles Nest, NAS Miramar or the USS Kitty Hawk. The instructors have the option of CVA-63 for initial contact with carrier operations.
Details on PFI and PFT will be added here soon.

After the BFC exam is passed, the officers are still Student Naval Aviators (SNAs), but they can decide to stay that way if all they wish is to do is fly unarmed, limited duty operations - such as Cargo or Patrol or SAR.
Note that Search and Rescue in the Third Fleet has ALWAYS been common to all rotary wing squadrons since the vast majority of helicopters we use are SAR enabled. Pilots from any squadron can be SAR certified at Third Fleet recognized SAR schools (including those part of Coast Guard groups) and serve in their squadrons as SAR pilots. Although there may be dedicated SAR squadrons in the Navy we tend to leave that to the Coast Guard and see that each station/facility/base has local SAR and/or CSAR capability. There is no centralized SAR command in the Third Fleet as that is exclusive to SLCG (Second Life Coast Guard) in generic Second Life terms and USCG in SL (before VCG) in specific United States naval service terms - just as in real life. The main role of Search and Rescue in Third Fleet is operations related - Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), for lack of better definition. In a nutshell, we do not rescue civilians unless in case of an emergency.
Front line V and H squadrons that fly complex operations - including AAR (Air to Air Refueling) and CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) - require IFT certification and grant AFT credits to be flown outside the conditioned duty status - they are initially flown as practice for IFT and as AFT trials, under the supervision of naval aviators in the SNAs respective squadrons - if no experienced naval aviators fly in those squadrons the SNAs need a temporary deployment with a squadron performing a similar role where experienced naval aviators already fly full active duty.

3. IFT - Intermediate Flight Training
From BFC, those interested in pursuing higher levels on the path to the Wings of Gold need to attend IFT (Intermediate Flight Training). IFT is described in full detail on the following page and notices:

- IFT program layout -
- IFT WOC/T2 exam (VEX) -
- IFT WOC/900 exam (HEX) -
- IFT Cycles -

IFT has a theory component given exclusively at NAS Miramar with the exception of the COQ (Carrier Operations Qualification) classes that may be given either at Miramar or aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, and a practice component that takes place at NAS Miramar and CVA-63. The theory component is common to fixed and rotary wings but the first time IFT is taken a primary role must be chosen - fixed or rotary wing. That will determine which practice component and exam (VEX or HEX) to take first - there is only ONE practical exam per IFT cycle that EACH candidate can take. Starting with rotary and taking the HEX means IFT may be taken again to get naval aviator grade certification for fixed wings, going through the practice component related to fixed wings and taking the VEX, and vice versa.

SNAs taking either fixed wing or rotary wing primary enroll in the same IFT cycle. Once the common core theory classes are done, the candidates break into two groups for V or H classes.

Since the theory component is common core it is not required to take another theory oral exam (VHO) after the secondary IFT practice component. However we do encourage refreshing knowledge by attending the theory classes again, and if applying for a secondary role IFT after 20 weeks have passed since the primary VHO exam attending the theory classes a second time is mandatory.

After the IFT exams are passed (VHO + VEX or VHO + HEX) the Student Naval Aviators (SNAs) are ready to apply for their Gold Wings by adding to these exams any AFT credits they may have. If they did not fly with front line squadrons in advanced roles or were not deployed to an elite unit with advanced operations (see AFT) while taking the IFT, then they must gather those credits after the IFT exams. Keep in mind that from our experience at Miramar, close to 100% of SNAs going through IFT are gathering the required AFT credits at the same time. This means that once the IFT exam is passed they are ready to add the AFT credits and get their Wings of Gold, becoming Naval Aviators.

4. AFT - Advanced Flight Training
AFT (Advanced Flight Training) is not a course but rather a set of credits given to those who engage in complex operations, such as special operations, expert operations and advanced flight operations. These missions are flown with conditioned duty status with the SNAs squadrons and are supervised by local naval aviators. Examples of special operations are SEAL teams support and Air to Air Refueling; examples of expert operations are CSAR or PATROU like operations (Patrol Routes with high standard requirements); examples of advanced flight operations are aerobatic flight or test flight.

Other than with front line squadrons, the SNAs can be deployed temporarily or permanently to an elite squadron/unit/school where advanced flight is part of day to day operations - if temporary or permanent deployment is required depends on the nature of those squadrons/units/schools. In USNSL Third Fleet those are: Navy Fighter Weapons School TOPGUN - NFWS (NASM), Navy Flight Demonstration Team "Blue Angels" - NFDT (NAFEN) and United States Naval Test Pilot School - USNTPS (NASM). With any of these, AFT credits are obtained by participating actively in day to day operations.

SNAs can work towards these credits alongside IFT - and 99% have done it that way so far - so that by the time they pass the IFT exams their commanding officers can provide information about their performance in these roles and thus have their AFT credits verified. It is the responsibility of each SNA to provide their local CO with reports that prove they are engaged in AFT activities, from which the CO's can then provide their reference to NATC and have those credits factored in.

 5. NATC vs Flight Schools
One last and very important thing. Most SNAs already have flying experience in Second Life, that is just a fact. To various degrees, from novice to expert, pilots arrive in USNSL to engage in a military naval career that in some cases means pursuing the Wings of Gold path - but not always.
Third Fleet NATC programs are not designed to simply teach how to fly, they are designed to teach how to fly and perform flight related operations in a US Navy environment.
No matter what the naval aviator candidate level is, regarding flight skills, the navy is a completely different setting than civilian flight or even that taught by other branches (i.e. Air Force). That is why there is a path to Naval Aviator. And that is why the Wings of Gold mean something special.

More information will be added as needed.
For details and questions contact NAS Miramar command.

CAPT. Asra Kron

Note: Due to the importance of this subject and to facilitate consult in the future, this page will be available as a special section here - for the original entry on the weblog see here.
Note 2: To prevent confusion with LDO's the term limited duty was replaced by conditioned duty.
Note 3: To harmonize terminology with 7th Fleet, Naval Aviator Candidate (NAC) was replaced by Student Naval Aviator (SNA).
Note 4: PFIS, PFS, IFTR and AFTR were replaced by PFI, PFT, IFT and AFT.

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