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Sea Before Sky: How A First Tour At Sea Can Sharpen Your Skills Before Flight School

Stefanie Senkow
April 16, 2021

LT Aaron CornNEW LONDON, Conn – LT Aaron Corn knew he wanted to be a pilot. But instead of soaring off to flight school after graduation, he ran into a little turbulence.

"I needed corrective eye surgery and had some lingering injuries from football that prevented me from applying to flight school while at the Academy," said Corn. "I also didn’t have the grades needed to get flight school right out of the Academy."

Corn went to sea for his first tour, as a Deck Watch Officer (DWO) aboard USCGC DILIGENCE.

"My two main roles were Navigation division head and Support Department head," said Corn. "Becoming a qualified DWO was a challenging experience that required learning a large and wide variety of information, and then applying it to driving the ship and conducting effective and safe operations. Serving as a division and then department head provided an immeasurable amount of leadership experience. I was responsible for five enlisted members as a division head, and then nearly 20 as department head," said Corn.

Skills like this move from the bridge to the cockpit. Experienced aviators know that a first tour at sea will leave you better prepared during flight school and after you earn your wings. This is the path followed by most Coast Guard officers.

LT Aaron Corn

"My first tour helped me improve skills like radio communications, reading charts/maps, and Crew Resource Management (CRM)," said Corn. "In addition to the leadership experience, I became more organized, mature, and confident in my ability to execute missions under stressful circumstances." Coast Guard aviators who qualified at sea first, know they are safer and better prepared to operate from the flight deck of a Coast Guard cutter.

From the seas to the sky, your career options are limitless at the Coast Guard Academy. Learn more about flight school and aviation careers in the Coast Guard.