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US Navy ‘Wings of Gold’

Photo: US Navy/MCS3C Nathan T. Beard


Combat Aircraft embedded with the US Navy’s Training Air Wing One at NAS Meridian, Mississippi, for our December and January issues to report on the process of training of future naval aviators on the T-45 Goshawk.

Becoming a naval aviator. Pinning those polished three-inch golden wings onto a crisp white suit. What does it take? How much goes into shaping twenty-somethings and teaching them not only to fly and fight as a pilot or weapons systems operator of any US Navy asset, but also how to land that asset on a postage-stamp-sized, pitching, rolling deck to catch the first wire? It’s intense. It’s a hard-working, concentration-saturated, academically filled, sacrificial span of flying like no other service in the world. It’s a syllabus that, if you’re a few degrees off, will mean failure — not only of the course, but, ultimately, actually being able to land your aircraft on an aircraft carrier.

In order to become ‘Tailhookers’ and earn their ‘Wings of Gold’, students must safely complete four touch-and-goes and 10 arrested landings aboard the carrier over two days.

There’s zero room for error.

For more, see the December and January issues of Combat Aircraft, we also have some great subscription offers to get the latest issue direct to your door, click here:


This is what it’s all leading up to…

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