The U.S. Navy is expert at training people to serve on Air Crews. They send candidates to the Naval Air Crew Candidate School. It is located at Pensacola, Florida. It incorporates a very challenging physical regime with skills and training to be able to operate the various systems required for operating flight crews.
One of the more difficult qualifications to earn, the gold wings with the letters AC branded on it, Navy Air crews are a proud breed. They face a lot of difficult and daunting challenges when they undergo training to earn these wings. The training is a lot like boot camp in its physical intensity, but there is where the similarity ends.
Many people envision Air Crew School from a distance as perhaps a mini vacation. They think of balmy Florida, and think they will see a little sun, a little surf, and maybe even some sunbathing. Well, those thoughts are quickly dashed once arriving at NACCS. To even win the right to attend, before even leaving boot camp candidates must pass a level-two swim test.
The physical fitness assessment must be passed with a “satisfactory-Medium” on all different levels for their age and their sex, and they also have to pass a flight physical prior to ever setting foot in Florida at the NACCS duty station school. Attending the Navy Air crew school is not for everyone, the participants are all volunteer members of the Active Duty Navy, and competition just to get in is intense. After gaining access to the school and beginning training, at any time sailors can request to drop out for any reason. In this respect, the school is much like the famed SEAL training.
For those that stay, very rigorous mental, emotional, physical and even psychological stressors are put in their way. Only the brightest and the best qualified make it to graduation day. The others are quietly weeded out, and sent on to other duty in the Navy.
“You cannot just put any person into a Navy Aircraft and expect them to contribute,” said Master Chief Kenneth J. Ellenburg. MC Ellenburg is the Navy Master Chief that is charge of NACCS training. “Flying in the United States Navy is unlike any other kind of flying, air crew members have a lot to do and to add to the mission, on each and every flight,” stated Ellenburg.
Missions that Navy Air crewmembers participate vary greatly, and depend on the tasking of the aircraft they are assigned to, and the type and size of the aircraft. Navy Aircraft move freight, engage targets, carry mail, and transport equipment and personnel anywhere that the Navy has a mission to perform.