Whether landing an F/A-18 Hornet on the deck of an aircraft carrier, hunting an enemy submarine in the North Atlantic in a P-3 Orion or maneuvering an SH-60F helicopter in a rescue operation, naval aviators are constantly called upon to perform under pressure. When you are assigned this career path, you can select training as a pilot or a naval flight officer. Pilots fly aircraft while naval flight officers serve as bombardiers, navigators, radar and electronic intercept officers and antisubmarine warfare systems specialists.
After graduation from the Academy, all those choosing aviation report to Pensacola, Fla., for Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. Pilot trainees may either stay in Pensacola or move to Corpus Christi, Texas, for basic flight training. Depending on the type of aircraft/training track chosen after basic, pilots may complete advanced training in Pensacola; Corpus Christi; Meridian, Miss.; or Kingsville, Texas. Naval flight officers (NFOs) complete all of their flight training in Pensacola. Aviators receive their 'wings of gold' after 18-24 months for pilots and 12-18 months for NFOs. They are assigned to their first squadron after six to nine months of aircraft and mission-specific training in a fleet replacement squadron.
In addition to flying, naval aviators have significant leadership and management responsibilities beginning with their very first duty assignment. New officers typically are charged with leading a group of aviation enlisted personnel and overseeing various aspects of their squadron's operations, administration, personnel management or aircraft maintenance.