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Career Story: Naval Pilot

Naval Pilot

Job Title: Naval Aviator (Pilot)

Education: BS in Electrical Engineering, Washington State University •• MS in Military Operational Art, Air Command and Staff College •• MS in National Resource Strategy, Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Previous Experience: Earned my Private Pilot's License Worked at a small airport as the night manager pumping gas into airplanes Was in the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in college

Job Tasks: I am a Naval Officer that is qualified to fly Navy airplanes. In the Navy, flying is only a small part of your job responsibility. You are also responsible for leading and managing people (the junior Sailors working under you). This requires a lot of work and effort if it is to be done right. You are also responsible for making important decisions that can (and often does) affect lives. This means that you have to know what you are talking about. Otherwise, you will make poor decisions and people will suffer as a result.

As a pilot, I am responsible for knowing everything about the airplane I fly: The weapon systems, the aircraft systems (to diagnose problems if there is an emergency), and the basics on how to fly. This takes a lot of time because you need to be proficient in flying the airplane or you can cause an accident, which could kill people or damage the airplane. Keep in mind that today's airplanes cost millions and millions of dollars, so you have to be responsible, study and work hard to ensure you do your part to make sure you return safely at the end of a flight.

A normal day may include one five hour flight (two hours to preflight, two hours of actual flying, and 1 hour of post-flight duties, like inspecting the plane, filling out the appropriate paperwork documenting the flight, and debriefing your crew on the mission). After the flying is over, you still have to attend to your other responsibilites of leading your Sailors. This includes giving them direction on what they are suppose to do, writing their evaluations and ensuring they are receiving the proper training to progress in their careers. It is also important to mentor your junior officers. This means you share with them what you have learned so they can make good choices about their careers and learn from your mistakes.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job has been the many different opportunities I have experienced as a Naval Officer. The leadership challenge has been exciting and the opportunity to influence other people is very rewarding. I have also gotten the chance to visit many different countries, experience different cultures and participate in a lot of unique events.

The worst part of my job is the time away from my family. When you are deployed on a ship for six months or more it is a long time to be away from your loved ones. You may also get stuck doing a job you don't like, but it doesn't last forever and before too long you move on to another job.

Job Tips:
1. Work hard at whatever you do. You do not have to be an engineer to be a pilot, but you have to be willing to work hard to learn about the aircraft. 2. Take flying lessons, if you can afford them or the military gives you the opportunity to be exposed to flying BEFORE you enter flight school. 3. Video games that develop hand/eye coordination would also be helpful. 4. Stay out of drugs and alcohol. This could eliminate your opportunity to be a pilot (in the military or as a civilian)

Additional Thoughts: Being in the military is not for everyone. It takes hard work and sacrifice to be successful. You have to be willing to die for your country and your fellow Sailor/Soldier. You also have to recognize that you need to have a servant's heart. If you have a selfish attitude then you will not be successful with your troops. You need to have the attitude of serving them, not them serving you. Don't try to fake it either, because they can see right through your facade.

Being a pilot in the Navy is exciting and fun! It opens up many opportunities for future employment once you get out of the military and you will enjoy many exciting adventures while you are in the military. Besides, how cool is flying a Navy plane anyway!?

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