It’s hard to believe that I reported to Naval Flight School just one year ago. My first year out of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy has gone incredibly fast. I am currently in phase III/IV of flight school and have completed IFS and API.
IFS is an introduction to flying in which students fly with civilian instructors in Cessnas and Pipers. We get about 25 hours of flight time and complete our FAA Private Pilot Exam at Peter Prince Airfield. It is also the last time we will fly until we report to Primary Flight Training, which is the phase I am in now.
After IFS, I checked into API at NAS Pensacola. This phase is six weeks and is made up of classroom instruction on several subjects such as aerodynamics, engines, navigation, and flight rules and regulations. It is an intense six weeks. In addition to heavy academics, we also have swimming almost every day where we learn to swim and tread water in full flight gear and boots. Near the end of API, we have a culminating event in which we must swim one mile non-stop in a flight suit within eighty minutes. It sounds daunting, especially to me, but the instructors work us up slowly and it ended up being a lot easier than I expected.
A few weeks ago I checked into Primary at NAS Whiting Field. In my opinion, this is when the real training begins. I am finishing up ground school and will be flying the T-6B within the next few weeks. The amount of information we had to read, process and internalize is mesmerizing. The textbooks and pubs are endless and there are even emergency procedure checklists that we must memorize verbatim. It’s like learning an entire semester’s worth of material in one month. All this work is, of course, worth it because in just one short year I’ll be pinning on my wings.
I’ll be sure to add some updates as my flying progresses. If anyone reading this wants to be a pilot, this is the way to go. The training is the best in the world and the Coast Guard has the most rewarding missions. It’s a lot of work, but it’s an amazing career.
More about George.