I like to tease my fellow Naval Aviators who went through the jet and multi-engine pipelines and who only fly fixed wing aircraft by telling them that they are “partially qualified” Naval Aviators. The logic on why or how can I make that claim is easy!

When I went through the training command in 1968, every student Naval Aviator made arrested landings in either the T-28 (as I did), the T-2 and/or the A-4 or TF-9. There were then, as there is now, three stages to that we all went through to earn our wings – primary, basic and advanced.

Some students were lucky to go from primary and flying the T-34B to basic flight training in the T-2 jet trainer and then in advanced, fly either the A-4 or Korean war vintage F-9s. The rest of us flew the T-28 in basic in either and then did our carrier qualifications in the T-28C.

We all got a minimum of six arrested landing a.k.a. traps, usually aboard the USS Lexington and then went on to advanced multi-engine training in the TS-2 (a piston engine S-2 anti-submarine aircraft with all the systems removed) or got more instrument training in the back seat of a T-28B before learning to fly helicopters. Today, the planes have changed, but the syllabus and process is pretty much the same except now, you only go to the boat for carrier qualifications if you are going to fly a carrier based airplane.

My fellow Naval Aviators who can only fly fixed wing aircraft are limited in their skills because they have only landed on carriers in fixed wing aircraft. They have never guided a machine with thousands of moving parts flying in very loose formation called a helicopter onto the small, emphasize small, pitching and rolling deck of a non-aviation ship such as destroyers, cruisers, supply ships and the like, in good weather or bad nor on nice sunny days or dark-assed nights. And, they cannot fly helicopters and therefore, they are not fully qualified.

On the other hand, those of us who (a) are qualified to fly fixed wing aircraft; (b) qualified to fly rotary wing machines; (c) have arrested landings in fixed wing aircraft ; and (d) have landed on aircraft carries as well as other types of ships in a helicopter are the only fully qualified Naval Aviators and they are not. The facts speak for themselves!!!!