Splash Ensigns

Well, the last few weeks have been the roaring start of my journey in the Naval Aviation training pipeline- Aviation Preflight Idoctrination (API). We’ve been in the pool almost every day doing everything from regular swimming to jumping off a 12-foot tower with flight suit and boots on and then swimming underwater for 15 yards. Next week we’ll finish up the water survival syllabus with a final test of our strokes technique, a 75-yard swim in full flight gear (suit, boots, gloves, helmet, and survival vest) and the final evolution of the course: a one-mile swim in a flight suit.

For me, it’s the water survival that’s been the most exciting and challenging part. Yesterday on the tower jump it took me a practice jump and three graded attempts and to make it to the line underwater. By the time I was done, my lungs hurt and I had a pretty nasty headache. But the high I got from actually passing a test I’d been dreading for months lasted much longer than the physiological consequences.

For most other people, it seems like the academics are the central challenge of the preflight program. We take six week-long courses two at a time. Two courses in Aerodynamics, and one each in Weather, Engines, Navigation, and Flight Rules and Regulations. It comes out to two exams per week for the last three of our four weeks of class. For me, most of the material is a review/regurgitation of what I just spent four years learning about in the Aeronautical Engineering program at RPI. I’m doing all right so far- 98% on Aero I and 100% on weather.

I’ll have to write more later. The Mrs. and I are finally moving into our own place tomorrow morning (also a topic for another entry) so there’s plenty to do around here tonight!


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