Do you want to become a Naval helicopter pilot? If you do then you have chosen an awesome career path. An entry-level Naval helicopter pilot in the US earns around $20 per hour or $42000 per year and depending on your level of experience you could earn as much as $80000-$180000 per year. Being a Naval helicopter pilot is not all about the pay grade, as a matter of fact, your pay grade is one out of the many things you’ll get to do and enjoy from being a Naval helicopter pilot. Having a good knowledge about who and what a Naval helicopter does will help your desire to become one take form or not. At the end of this blog post, you’ll come to learn about who a Naval helicopter pilot is, what he/she does, and how you can become one.
Who is a Naval helicopter pilot?
A Naval helicopter pilot (airman) is a warrant or commissioned officer who is qualified to be a crewed aircraft pilot or airman in the United States Navy or the United States Marine Corps.
Naval helicopter pilots are part of the Naval Aviation team. The training they undergo allows them to fly various helicopters the Navy uses for transportation, combat, and a host of other missions. Helicopter pilots are trained to manoeuvre a helicopter in any weather condition.
What does a Naval helicopter pilot do? The job description
As a Naval helicopter pilot, you get to work in two teams. You can either work as an Observer or as a Flight Officer. The pilot is responsible for manoeuvring and controlling the helicopter while the other team members handle the following responsibilities:
- Spatial awareness of the flight path
- Control of on-board systems, which includes the weapons system
- Mission command
- Mission strategy
- Flight support
Your primary responsibility as a Naval helicopter pilot is to ensure a safe flight for both the helicopter and the passengers you are carrying onboard the helicopter.
Some of your job duties as a helicopter pilot include:
- Creating flight plans
- Inspecting the aircraft and its systems
- Supervising maintenance
- Transporting cargo and passengers
- Performing evasive manoeuvres
- In-flight refuelling
- Train others on the systems use and flight safety
- Coordinating missions
- Performing Mission briefings
- Calculating vehicle conditions like load weight and fuel
The typical missions you’ll be expected to carry out as a Naval helicopter pilot include:
- Enemy scouting
- Search and rescue
How to become a Naval helicopter pilot
Becoming a Naval helicopter pilot requires a combination of training and education. The route to becoming a Naval helicopter pilot isn’t through wishful thinking rather there are a few things you’ll have to do or meet if you are to become one.
Before you’ll be able to become a Naval helicopter pilot, you’ll have to do or meet the following criteria:
1. You must have a US citizenship
The first step to becoming a US Navy pilot is first becoming a US citizen or having US citizenship. You mustn’t be born in the US to become one, you can apply for it and pass a couple of tests to become one.
2. Obtain a bachelor’s degree
The minimum educational requirement to becoming a Naval helicopter pilot is having a bachelor’s degree. To increase your odds or give you an edge, obtain your degree at the Naval Academy in Annapolis but that doesn’t mean you won’t meet the requirement if you obtain the degree from a civilian school. However, if you’ll be attending a civilian school, attend one with a Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) program.
3. Acquire military education
You should already know that Navy pilots are Officers which invariably means that you’ll need military education in addition to your bachelor’s degree as having one is just enough to become a Naval helicopter pilot. If you went to a Naval Academy or a citizen school with an ROTC program then upon graduation you would have earned a degree and also become an officer. If you didn’t attend any of the suggested institutions then you can attend an Officer Training School at the Naval Air Station. It’s a 12-week program where you’ll get to undergo physical training and learn military basics.
4. Score the Aviation Selection Test Battery
Before becoming a Naval helicopter pilot after obtaining a bachelor’s degree and becoming an Officer, you’ll have to pass the Aviation Selection Test Battery.
The test has seven sections and they include:
- Math Skills Test (MST)
- Reading Comprehension Test (RCT)
- Mechanical Comprehension Test (MCT)
- Aviation and Nautical Information Test (ANIT)
- Naval Aviation Trait Facet Inventory (NAFTI)
- Performance-Based Measures Battery (PBM)
- Biological Inventory with Response Validation (BI-RV)
The BI-RV is a description of your flight experience, the NAFTI tests your personality, PBM tests your flight competence in a flight simulator, and the first four tests are standard tests of your knowledge.
5. Go through physical tests
To be a Naval pilot, you have to be in good shape physically that’s why they’ll have to access your fitness through a physical fitness test. The test aims to determine if you meet their requirements in terms of:
- Swimming ability
- Psychological stability
- Physical health. They’ll check for things like your pulse and blood pressure as well.
6. Attend a flight school
It’s only natural you go through a flight school since you intend to become a helicopter pilot right? The only time you will be excepted from attending one is when you have a private pilot or recreational certificate or you have performed a solo cross-country civilian flight.
Before you are enrolled into a Navy aviation program, you must have met the following requirements:
- Completed 25 hours of coursework
- Participated in at least 3 solo flights
- Embarked on a cross-country flight
When you have successfully gained entrance into the aviation program, you’ll have to complete two different programs. The programs are:
Pre-indoctrination: In this coursework, you’ll be studying the mechanics and science of flight alongside the survival tools in an event where you crash into the water.
Flight training: In this course, you’ll be taught the hands-on basics of military flying via a flight simulator or an actual vehicle.
7. Complete and pass through helicopter training
To complete the helicopter training, you will be required to spend months (6 months actually) undergoing advanced training in order to familiarize yourself with military tactics and helicopters so do well to carry along the best mattress toppers cause you’ll need them if you want to stay in top form. The training you’ll go through include:
- Learning about helicopter aerodynamics and instrumentation
- Complete helicopter cockpit simulator training
- Embark in 15 flights, one of which will be a solo flight
- Master helicopter skills like auto-rotation and hovering
- You’ll undergo full helicopter simulator training
- Understand military helicopter tactics
8. Reporting for duty
Once you have achieved all the requirements above, you’ll now take part in a ceremony where you’ll be given your Wings of Gold. The Wings of Gold signifies that you are now a Navy helicopter pilot and after that ceremony, you’ll report to your assigned squadron where you’ll be given your assignments and further training.