School’s Out! Sort of…

Today was our last graded test- Flight Rules and Regulations. I know I passed, but I don’t have my score yet. There are still two weeks of API left, but from here on out, it’s more hands-on stuff and one-day courses. We’ve got an all-day land survival course on Monday, and some fun stuff next week leading up to the helo dunker on Friday. I used to be really worried about that particular evolution, but after all I’ve been through in the pool in the last few weeks, it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. Sure, I’ll be strapped in a tube with five other guys, dropped in the water and flipped upside down, but all I have to do is get out of the thing. I can surface when I’m clear of it, and I’m not even allowed to kick with my legs (for fear of hitting folks behind me) so this thing won’t be nearly as painful as the fifteen yard underwater swim after a 12-foot tower jump. There’s a video of it here. Those guys are Marines, but we’ll be using an identical piece of equipment with our flight gear on.

I made it through the API coursework just fine. Going into the sixth and final exam, I’d missed a total of five questions on the previous five exams, giving me an overall average of 98%. The doesn’t put me at the top of the class, but probably in the top 5 or so.

Not all my friends have been so lucky. One guy I went to IFS with, who rolled into our class after failing some exams in a class ahead of us, failed another exam and ended up being removed from the flight training program. Another good friend of mine who started in our class failed two exams and is now rolled back to the class a week behind us. Yet another guy in the class (whom I didn’t know as well) failed some exams and has also been removed from flight training. It’s been tough. But it should be tough, and not everyone should pass. As sad is it is to see my friends go, and although they might be disappointed, there is also no shame in failing out. Those who are no longer with my class are still excellent officers and will go on to serve our country with distinction in other communities.

Anyone who is worried about the moral quality of the youth of America need look no further than naval flight training, or even the military in general. Sure, there are some jerks here, too, but by and large the folks I go to work with every day, both officer and enlisted, are some of the finest, strongest, smartest, and most dedicated people on the planet. I am truly lucky just to be here.

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