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Summary of NFO flight school


Enroute to VMAQ-1
I posted this over on the Marine forum, but I'm sure it would be better off over here.

This will be post API, because i think theres enough gauge out about API. Bottom line, its not hard, you don't need 100's, but just don't fail anything and don't be afraid of the swimming.


So then you'll check into VT-4, or VT-10. These are the two NFO squadrons for Primary and Intermediate training. You'll have a couple weeks of ground school for learning the T-34 systems, more aerodynamics and weather, some flight rules and regs, and that kind of stuff. Tests are taken on computer and will be much easier than the API tests. You'll be kind of overwhelmed with all the new material, but after learning the T-34, you'll find it much easier to learn the other planes down the line. Come up with a good system for studying, especially Emergency Procedures, because you'll be doing it for at least 4 more planes.
You'll now do 3 simulators (CPTs),where you'll practice the plane checklist and EP's.
So now you're ready to fly! You get 6 FAM (familiarization) flights. You will be in the front seat, and in control of the plane for a lot of the time. You won't be graded on how you fly, just on how you know the procedures. But of course, this doesn't always happen. Put it this way, if you fly good, you'll get good grades. If you don't, the instructors could construe this as you not knowing your procedures. Some of the procedures you have to learn are level speed changes, constant speed turns, holding altitude, Emergency landing patterns, landings, turn patterns, stalls, spins, and aerobatics. Its a blast, especially if you've never been in a small plane before. Some people get sick, but it shouldn't be that bad once you get used to it.
After the 6 FAMS, you'll go back to ground school to learn how to do navigation and instrument approaches. After you're done, you'll go back to the simulators and do 4 OFTs. You'll practice doing navigation and different type of instrument approaches in the simulators.
You'll then be expected to do the same stuff, but this time in real plane. These flights are called AirNavs, or ANAVs, and you have 6 of them. You really start to feel like you're a part of the crew at this point. You're in charge of navigation, comms, and talking the pilot through the approach.
When you're done with ANAV 6, its time for graduation! You're done with Primary. The Navy guys who wanted P-3s will find out if they got them, and depart for San Antonio. But as a Marine, you have no choice. You are going to fly a tactical jet and get to stay!

BTW, i just realized that by the time you guys get here, you'll be flying the T-6. But thats ok, should be the same syllabus, just different plane. It doesn't have a TACAN either, but don't worry about anything.

INTERMEDIATE comes next...

Its back to the sims for OFT 5-9. More navigation and approaches and holding. Now you go back to the plane and do some more ANAVs. ANAV 7-17. The legs will just get shorter, and you'll practice holding and more approaches and just be expected to handle everything better, especially the comms. This is where you can go on cross countries. The instructors, especially the single ones, love to go on cross countries. You learn so much on them, i highly recommend it. You usually fly out Friday morning, and then have all Friday night and Saturday to have fun. You fly back Sunday. Somewhere around the end of ANAVs, you'll go to class and learn how to do Visual Low Levels (VNAV). You will make your own chart and use points on the ground to navigate through a route instead of a NAVAID. While going through the low level, you are giving the pilot corrections for course and time in order to hit the target on course and on time. These are flown at 1500 feet and I think 150 knots but i don't remember. Its been a while! VNAVs are a lot of fun too, but like all the flights, its something new and you want to do well, so sometimes you only appreciate how cool it is after you get back and the grade sheet is done. There are 3 VNAVs.
Next comes the Formation flights. There are two Forms. You and your partner brief the flight together. It was really crazy the first time you take off with another plane right next to you. All your references get messed up. You go out on FORM-1, and practice some cool maneuvers and aerobatic type stuff, land at Mobile, and then switch Lead/Wing and do it again and land at home. These were really fun. You finally get to pull some G's again. The last flight is VNAV 4. Its a FORM flight but you go through a low level route. Good stuff. And then your done with the T-34/6! You're ready for faster flight in jets.
You'll have to go through more ground school to learn the systems and NATOPS for the T-1. The T-1 was a fun plane. The cockpit was all digital and modern. A lot different than the T-34. I had a little trouble adjusting, but i was fine after 3 flights. You'll do ANAV 18-21, and VNAV 5-7. Flight is much faster now, so you have to think a little quicker. But mostly the big difference is having a civilian pilot sitting right next to you, and a military NFO instructor sitting right behind you watching everything you do. And another student in the back listening to you screw up! But it is neat having an NFO teach you now instead of a pilot. The next flight is called AVX-2X where you ANAV out to the beginning of a route, fly the low level, and then come on home. Good flight. And its your last one in Intermediate and VT-4/10! Graduation is a little bit bigger because your going to VT-86 now. The Navy guys who selected E-2s will now leave as well.


Advanced is in Pensacola as well. You just move across the parking lot to the next hangar to VT-86. As before, you start off with ground school in order to learn the T-39 and radar navigation. The T-39 is similar to the T-1, just a lot older but is more maneuverable and faster in the Low Levels. Ground school is where you learn just how different VT-86 is. You learn all the material, but instead of having the test one day at a time, you have them all in one day. More difficult also. In the mean time, you also have to make several charts to fly the Radar Navs and Low Levels with. But anway, you get through it.
You start off in the T-39 simulator doing RST 0 where you just get used to the T-39 cockpit. Then you go to the plane for 2 ANAVs. You'll most likely do a cross country to get these done. I went to Whidbey Island, it was a good time. Then you come back to the simulator where you do radar navigation. This is a lot different than what you've done previously so it takes a lot of practice in the sims on your own. After 4 RSTs, you go to the plane and do it. These are RNs. You fly 3 of them. The real radar is quite different than the sims radar so its a little harder. After the RNs, you move on to fly 4 Low Levels. These LLs are flown at 500 ft now and 300 knots.
Now its time for selection. As a Marine, if you select Strike, you'll go Prowlers. StrikeFighter is F-18Ds. You're NSS (gpa) and the needs of the Marine Corps will dictate what you'll get. But you'll have to remember that you should have a really high NSS to pick hornets because their syllabus is about 3 months longer where you have many events that could bring it down. Your main goal is to get winged. You may select hornets, but what if your NSS takes a hit and is unrecoverable, and you get kicked out all together? Now, forget about what you fly, now you don't even have wings. So anyway...

I chose Prowlers. I liked the four man crew concept, the Prowlers mission is run by NFOs, and it always goes in the event of a conflict. Those were just some of my reasons.

So I'll talk about the Strike syllabus. At this point, the strike fighter guys will learn air to air radar and stuff like that for three months. Maybe another guy can come on and talk about that.
After selection, we're supposed to make a whole bunch of charts. Its a pain in the ass, but what are you gonna do. 2 more days of classes also. These classes teach you how to get to the timing correct for getting to the first point of a low level. They also teach you how to get to the end of the route, the target, at a real world time.
So the first flights are called Strikes. In STK 1 & 2, the expect you to ANAV out to the first point of the low level within a certain time frame. Then fly the low level using Radar and visual navigation, alternating every other leg, and then ANAV home.
Then you go to the sims for 3 flights, CST 1-3. Here you practice using the radar to navigate at lower levels and though actual terrain, not the flat Pensacola crap. Its suprising how different it is. On CST-3, you will not know what route you will fly until that morning. You come in, you're given a mission, and you have to plan and fly it in the sim within 3 hours. Good training.
COMPs come next. These were the best flights so far in flight training. Here, anything goes. You ANAV out to the low leve route, and then use any type of navigation you need to get to the target at a real world time. (i.e. I'm going to bomb the bridge at 1532 tomorrow afternoon). You're also expectede to get off the 'black line', or the straight course line between each point. Therefore you can tell your pilot to follow the river, or fly through the valley or anything. These are flown at 500 ft and 300 knots as well, but this time through mountainous terrain. When your done, you land at a field, have lunch, and the next person does it coming home. There are 6 of these. On the 6th, it will be like CST-3 where you are given your mission in the morning, and have 2 hours to plan it and fly it for real.

You're done with T-39s! Now its time for T-2s. Here, all the Air Force guys will get winged and leave to do the rest of their training. The Navy and Marines don't get winged until after T-2's.

T-2 ground school is only a couple days long. You'll then have 9 simulator events. The first 3 will be like T-34 fams where you have to fly the plane and practice checklists. Next 2 are EP sims, and then some navigations sims. Then comes the real deal. You'll have 3 Fam flights that are just like ANAVs except you also practice Out of Control Recovery. You'll be in the back. The T-2 is much different than the other planes. A lot more maneuverable, and you have to wear a g-suit and O2 mask. Checklists are the big thing with these flights. After the 3 FAMS you'll move on to the WEPS flights. The first two you fly with one other plane and go through a low level. The third one you fly with three other planes and go through a short low level into a range where you practice bombing runs. Next comes 6 ATMs. These are just dogfighting, and kick a lot of butt. In the beginning, I was just overwhelmed, but towards the end you're expected to be able to tell the pilot which maneuver to fly in order to kill the bogey. The bogey is your wingman. These flights are a ton of fun, but very very tiring. Its just constant G's and maneuvering. Great stuff.
So then thats it! After about 16 months you'll be winged! I can't believe that after 24 years i'll finally be winged.
Hope this helps people a little. I know i wrote it kinda fast so if someone has any questions or needs clarification or something, let me know.


Enroute to VMAQ-1
No problem, i hope it helps. After reading it again though, I realized its not very easy to follow. I'm not much of a writer. And I may have skimmed over some stuff. Let me know.

Also, at selection, the Navy SNFOs select S-3s or Prowlers for Strike, or F-18s or F-14s for StrikeFighter. Once you select your pipeline, you won't know which of the two planes you get until a couple days before winging. Air Force selects B-1s for Strike or F-15s for StrikeFighter. They don't do T-2s and get winged right after their strike/strikefighter pipeline.


Registered User
Pat, You could've fooled me into thinking you were better than Hemmingway! Question though...after I would select Strike or StrikeFighter, what comes next for training and how long is it? Do NFOs goto a FRS like NAs after winging? If NFOs do goto a FRS, where is it located?

Thanks again for your help.


Hummer NFO
Wow. It sounds like it's pretty difficult. Did you find that once you got into the system, and worked hard, that the topics just came to you? Thanks for the post though. It was great.


PLC Jrs 1st Inc. Kilo-3
Yes, SNFO's go to the FRS. Prowlers FRS is at Whidbey Island, WA. Hornets (and I think Tomcats) are at San Diego, CA. That's all I know cause I'm going the Marine route. I don't know where those Navy SNFO's go for like E-2's or whatever. Thanks again Pat, you're a good leader already. Later.


VS NFO. Blue and Gold Officer
Super Moderator
NFOs and Pilots go through the RAG (Replacement Air Group, WWII term still used, now called FRS) together as a class. The class room work is generally the same, at least for strike and strike/fighter guys. You learn all the same stuff. It is in the RAG that the NFOs hit the boat for the first time. You do it with a pilot instructor, not a fellow nugget. The nugget pilots go to the boat for the first time in the fleet aircraft with NFO RAG instructors in the back/right seat. The RAG is the first time you get a hint what the fleet is like. The last instructor/stud BS goes away. In the RAG they don't teach you how to fly but simply transition you to the fleet aircraft and then teach you how to employ it as a weapon. 90% of what you do is weapons and tactics related. I thought the RAG was fun.


Enroute to VMAQ-1
After selecting Strike or Strikefighter, you just branch off into different a different syllabus. You are still in Advanced, and in Pensacola. Once you get winged, you'll go to the FRS. I only know where the Prowler and F-18D FRSs are. Whidbey Island for Prowlers and Miramar for F-18s.

It was a lot, and many parts were very difficult. But thats what makes getting you wings so awesome. What works best is to just take it one segment at a time.


PLC Jrs 1st Inc. Kilo-3
It is in the RAG that the NFOs hit the boat for the first time. You do it with a pilot instructor, not a fellow nugget.
Wink, question. What do the NFO's in the FRS do when they're out at the boat? Do they go out and come back in the same day, or are they out there for a while?


Registered User
Thanks Patrick. Would like to buy you a beer (or two) for your efforts. It is appreciated:

FRS for Navy NFO's are:

E2 = Norfolk VA
P3 = Jacksonville Fla
S3 = San Diego, CA
Prowlers = Whidbey Is Washington
F14 = Southern Calif?
E6 = Not sure?
F18 = Oceana VA (soon to be)


Registered User
F14's, SoCal?! We wish. It's actually in Oceanna (think Norfolk), VA.
F18's will be in Lemoore for at least another year, then they'll probably go to Oceanna. Well, the RAG will, for that matter.
E6's are only in Oklahoma City, OK


VS NFO. Blue and Gold Officer
Super Moderator
I may have lied and I hope some of the young guys can help me out here. When I went thorough the VS RAG over 15 years ago we in fact did not go to the boat in the RAG, but with our fleet squadron. My squadron was starting workups so I went out with a cruise experienced pilot when we had the deck for CQ. In that case you just bagged traps or got a few touch and gos and then flew home. That was pretty common for all NFOs back then. I have heard from some recent NFOs that they got to go to the boat when their pilot classmates CQed in the RAG. Don't know if that was a good deal or it is routine now. Either way, CQ for nugget pilots in the RAG or NFOs in their fleet squadron, you usually just fly out to the boat and then fly home same day. May get out of the plane for a couple hours to switch crews, but normally just go back home when the fun is over.


Registered User
I am an NFO hopeful and your post makes me even more anxious to get selected. It sounds intense, but like you said, fun.


Helo Bubba
SNFOs from my API class 0330 were among the first to go through primary with the T-6. So not everyone will go through on the T-34C. Half the NFOs fomr my class went T-6 the other half went T-34C. Just something to look forward to.