Training Regimen for Navy Pilots

To become a Navy pilot in the United States, you must meet medical, educational and physical prerequisites and finish several stages of training. The educational requirements are among the most time consuming and significant factors in becoming a naval aviator or navy pilot. In addition to academics, you must meet certain medical standards and be prepared for the physical demands of training.

What is Naval Aviation?

Naval Aviation is well-known for the requirements it places upon the Navy pilots. The concentration and skills required to track a sub while flying a few feet above a stormy sea is not only linked to top physical conditioning or a stellar academic background. There is more to naval aviation than that; it requires a combination of dedication and talents that few people have, and even fewer are challenged to use to full measure.

Here are the benchmarks you will need to meet if you plan to pursue this highly demanding and coveted career:

Education and Commissioning

The first step towards becoming a pilot in the Navy is enlisting in the Navy. Some potential pilots join the Navy when they enter college. To be a Navy pilot, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree so many individuals wait to enlist until after university. One of the benefits of enlisting sooner is that you can join the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) and still take military classes while enrolled in a regular college curriculum.

Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you must become a naval officer appointed at the rank of ensign which requires you to have specific military training. The United States Naval Academy is the most rigorous route. Only about ten percent of applicants are chosen each year. Aspiring students have a varsity sports background, history of leadership, and stellar academic records.

Age Requirements

There are cutoff ages. You’re required to be at least eighteen years of age when you enlist in the Navy and be appointed as an officer before turning twenty-eight.


You must be a citizen of the United States. If you’re not a citizen yet, you can apply to become one as soon as you enlist, no matter how long you’ve lived in the United States.


To become a Navy pilot, you will have to pass a mandatory test of the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB), a test that has been in place since World War II. It is comprised of five timed subsets: a survey gauging interest in aviation, spatial perception, nautical and aviation, verbal and mathematics, and mechanical comprehension. Approximately ten thousand candidates sit for the exam annually.

Physical Condition

You will have to take a battery of background, physical and psychological tests. You will take a flight physical to prove that you are medically qualified to fly. You can’t have problems with depth perception or be colorblind.

Flight School

After successfully completing the Aviation Selection Test Battery, you’ll need to enroll in flight school for introductory flight screening. However, if you have a private pilot’s or recreational license, you may be able to forego flight school.

Introductory flight screening includes twenty-five hours of instruction. Once this period is over, you must have completed three solo flights. Upon completion, you can enroll in the Navy’s program for aviators in the state of Florida.

In Florida, primary training commences. Here you’ll start your hands-on instruction in regards to repairing and operating aircraft. You will spend about a hundred hours in flight learning basic flight skills, aerobatics, night flying, and flying in formation.


At the end of your primary training stage, you will need to specialize in a specific aircraft. Where you go next depends on the aircraft you’ve chosen to specialize in operating.

Earn Your Golden Wings

The golden wings are awarded to select groups of pilots who can be Navy aviators. It takes years of education and training to earn your wings, but if you are devoted to a career as a pilot, it’s a great long-term goal. You just need to work hard and allow your instructors to train and guide you to your wings of gold.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Naval Flight Officer?

NFO’s are the women and men who operate the advanced systems onboard naval aircraft and some may also act as tactical directors of various air assets in a mission. They’re different from Naval Aviators in that they don’t pilot the aircraft in which they serve. This division of labor between NFO’s and aviators enables them to focus on mission tasks that call for specific occupational training.

What Courses Should I take if I am working Towards Becoming a Navy Pilot?

During your undergrad, you should plan on taking math up to Linear Algebra or Calculus II. You should also take two semesters of introductory physics classes which will rely heavily on your fundamental understanding of mathematics. From there, you might consider classes in material physics, thermal dynamics, and fluid, or physics of light. These will all help you stand out.


To become a Navy pilot, you need to be able to prove to the Navy that you are worthy of their investment in your training. You have to have the the traits and skills the Navy is looking for including character, will, desire and intelligence to make it through training. If you become a Navy pilot, you can look forward to a career filled with challenge, adventure, and excitement.

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