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The basics of API


New Member

Before API:
Find something fun to do. Don’t worry about studying before you start. While I was there, it was changed so you could only pick up your pubs within two weeks of your start date. That’s more than enough time. Put them in your bathroom and flip through them while you’re in there. Do that and you should be prepared. If you try to pre-study or make flashcards or anything, the problem is that there may be six or eight paragraphs talking about one learning objective and you don’t know what to focus on. Just wait until you get to class and you’ll see what’s important.

During API:
If there’s anything I can stress, it’s this…IT’S NOT AS BAD AS PEOPLE MAKE IT OUT TO BE.

People like to get all wrapped up in the daily schedule of API before they even get there. Here’s what you need to know about the schedule:
First four weeks: academics, swimming
Last two weeks: physiology, survival training
Worry about start times and class lengths break times and which classes are in what order once you start. There are six tests (in alphabetical order):
Aero 1
Aero 2
Five of them are pure memorization. No high level concepts you need to wrap your brain around, just memorize the definitions. For nav you actually have to know how to work the problems. It’s nothing complicated, it’s simple math (with a few definitions thrown in) but the math is done on the flight computer. Just make sure you know how to estimate and use the CR-3 (all of this will be taught in class.) For the nav test, make sure you cut your chart the right way. If you cut it wrong there's a good chance one of your points won't be there anymore. Work the problems, ask questions if you have help. For the other tests, memorize. I went through and made sure I could spit out the entire answer word for word for every learning objective. I probably spent 2-4 hours a night studying, that time included being quizzed by my wife. The only gouge I used was a couple of NavyGouge practice tests (which had several wrong answers) and I had an average in the 90’s.
For swimming, just do what they tell you to do. If you’re comfortable in the water, you’ll be fine. The mile swim is not hard, it’s just boring. Thirty-six laps in the pool. I took my time and made full use of the glide and still finished in just over fifty minutes.

Around the end of the third week you’ll get your gear. DON’T be a tool and start wearing your leather jacket the next day. DO make sure you IP your flight suits before you wear them. DON'T forget that even though it is a working uniform you shouldn't be a slob. DO wash those things once in a while.

The last two weeks is pretty easy. You do have a physiology test but it’s pretty simple and there’s a thorough review the day before the test. Physiology and survival were pretty fun. Just try not to get hurt during parachute training. People make the dunker out to be this blood thirsty student-eating machine. It’s not. If you pay attention to what you’re told and apply it in the water, you won’t have any problems. The days you get in the bay if the water is cold, wetsuits are available for you to use. Or bring your own if you don’t like smelling like an asscrack.

Take pictures.

Try not to fail anything.

After API:
Good luck.

Hopefully this will answer at least a couple of questions for some of you.


Back at last
Awesome post... With two months left at TBS, I'm amazed at how many guys are already trying to get their hands on API pubs. I find this especially amusing due to the fact that we won't pick up for who knows how long. Much appreciated thread.


Supply Officer
Maybe because people are hearing stories about the cursed FY04 group from a while ago? I know plenty of people who wish that they had the pubs much earlier so they could get a head start (and still be in the program now).

Don't rag on people for freaking out ... every now and then, they're justified. Now doesn't seem to be one of those times, though ... so relax when you get there and enjoy the beaches :icon_smil


getting salty...
i was talking with my uncles (both were naval aviators) and we were talking about what type of physical fitness testing (out of the water) you do at API (they went through back in the 70's and were wondering what has changed). Is there just the normal run/pushup/curlup test or is there more? They were saying they did a cross-country type of test like over walls etc.


Super DUPER Hornets!
Why does wearing the bomber jacket after you get it make you a tool? What if it's cold out?

Correct me if I'm wrong API types but I assume like all other navy tests the API exam questions are drawn from the Enabling Objectives in the pubs. If you study those you should be in good shape.

I've had the pubs since the summer and I've not yet gotten a class date (NFO power, yeah) and I stopped studying them seriously around october. I'll probably start again soon because KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!


Hangar Four
dnweinreb said:
Correct me if I'm wrong API types but I assume like all other navy tests the API exam questions are drawn from the Enabling Objectives in the pubs. If you study those you should be in good shape.

Technically yes, however the wording on some of the questions trips up MANY people and even though you know the correct answer you could miss the question. Most of the problems i hear about is with wording though.


mules83 said:
....... was talking with my uncles (both were naval aviators) and we were talking about what type of physical fitness testing.....you do at API (they went through back in the 70's ......
TheBubba said:
Nothing like that... just the Navy PRT and swim quals.

In the '60's we did the swim quals (of course) and the then "new" Navy PFT (Physical Fitness .....) AND the timed cross-country course (three miles over the hill and through the dale ... and sand) AND the timed Obstacle Course --- the real deal, complete with a 16 foot wall and 10 (maybe 9?) foot wall to get you started -- straight up and over. The surprising thing is that most guys passed it. I only remember 4-5 guys out of 120 or so that were on "sub-PT". I think they all eventually passed.

Part of our "regular" PT regimen was general calisthenics: push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, rope climbing, squat-thrusts, running, and some other stuff that presently escapes my memory and mind. And I was a commissioned officer -- not a NAVCAD or AOCS. Nevertheless, we all had to do it.

The O' Course was near the Mustin Beach O' Club .... down the seaplane ramp from what was then the gym at the eastern end of the ramp where the Lexington used to tie up when she was in Pensacola.



Supply Officer
jamnww said:
Technically yes, however the wording on some of the questions trips up MANY people and even though you know the correct answer you could miss the question. Most of the problems i hear about is with wording though.

I think that came off as sounding a bit easier than it really is. The problem isn't just wording like double negatives or giving extraneous information.

I remember a confusing question when I was in API that I won't give you specifically, but a simplistic example would be along the lines of:

You are cruising along and your fire annunciator light illuminates. Which of the following is the most likely cause?

a) Excessive heat in the <wherever>
b) A fire in the <wherever>
c) ...

The actual reason a fire light annunciator could be any of the answers you are given ... but the "correct" answer for the test is whichever choice has the wording that most resembles a sentence in the book and not necessarily the real problem.

I think a lot of people (myself included) got tripped up because the tests check to see if you memorized the book - not if you understood the concepts behind the material. The answer on the test may be "because there is a fire" because that is what the book mentioned as a possible cause even if your previous class taught you how the fire detection system actually works and you KNOW that the real answer is "excessive heat"

(API doesn't focus so much on specific airframes for a lot of the academic work, so it is unlikely this type of question would appear on the test ... but the scenario of knowing the real answer and having a differnt "book" answer is reasonable)


API doesn't really test your ability to understand concepts. Most of the concepts are pretty simple to understand and if that's all they tested, most folks would pass with flying colors. They test your ability to dig through the pubs and find and memorize important bullets of info that are surrounded by useless words. Think of it as future training for picking out the key phrases you'll need to know for a brief.

That being said, play the game when you're there. Don't spend your time bitching about the way they test, spend that time studying and you'll have no problems getting out. About the only take aways from the academics are a general understanding of graphs, how to use a whiz wheel, and flight rules and regs.


Hummer NFO
With the jacket comment...Guys, it doesn't get THAT cold in Pensacola, you won't need it. The leather is kind of a special uniform item. My recommendation would be to wait to wear it until you transfer up north or you earn your wings. Your green Nomex should take care of any issues you have for wx in Pcola. As for guys who freak out about API. I was one of them. I was a Fine Arts major who stumbled into the Navy...So Aero I was a big wake up call. However, if you make good buds and study in groups, you will get through. I just studied every afternoon after class right after the fire hose was shut off. That seemed to work for me. API is not hard guys, it just requires patience and good memorization skills. The tests are tricky, but most instructors will help you out if you are confused and ask for clarification. Just don't ask for the answer. Pass the tests, don't sink when you tread water, and make sure you bring candy and gatorade to the bay with you for the helo hoist. Good things happen then. I got a ride in an H-3...It was cool. Good luck.


Well-Known Member
I'd probably be the first person to say API was a fairly non-eventful flight, but it seems like every couple weeks or so, I get word of a Navy or Marine counterpart who fails out. So, while I don't recommend studying ahead of time, while you're there, do your best, if you need to study....do so, if not, that's great too.