MUHS grad training to be a Navy pilot
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas —Middlebury Union High School 2010 graduate Lt. J.G. Ryan Foley is a student pilot with the “Stinging Stingrays” Training Squadron (VT-35), based in Corpus Christi, Texas, that operates the TC-12 Huron aircraft. As a student, Foley is responsible for learning to fly multi-engine and land-based aircraft to ensure he is properly trained and ready to perform duties as a Navy pilot in the fleet. “I like the people that I work with here at this command, both military and civilian,” said Foley. “We are all very close and we get along really well, which makes it fun to come to work every day.” We also balance each other out when training becomes difficult at times.” The TC-12 is an all-metal, low-wing, twin-turboprop monoplane training aircraft powered by two 850-shaft horsepower engines with a cruising airspeed of 281 mph.
VT-35’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete four phases of flight training to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”
After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter jet, the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.
Many of the pilots will fly aircraft that take off from and land aboard aircraft carriers, a unique capability that allows the Navy to operate anywhere on the world’s oceans. Recently, Navy attack aircraft operating from aircraft carriers sailing in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and from Middle East waters have launched hundreds of strike missions against terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s squadrons with the newest aircraft platforms, Foley said he and other VT-35 sailors are proud to be part of a war-fighting team that readily defends America at all times.
“This command is awesome and all of the instructors will tell you that this is the best squadron they have ever been to in the Navy,” said Foley. “Everything here is so efficient and you can tell everyone wants to be here.”
Jobs are highly varied at VT-35, according to Navy officials. Approximately 28 Navy and 15 Marine Corps men and women officers along with 15 civilian employees make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly. This includes everything from training the new aviators, maintaining airframes and engines, processing paperwork, along with handling and flying the aircraft.
“Every day I feel an extraordinary amount of pride to serve alongside our great nation’s most inspiring men and women,” said Cmdr. Arthur A. Hodge, commanding officer of VT-35. “Our team is filled with hardworking and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our mission: to maintain, fly and train future naval aviators. Their work ethic, commitment, enthusiasm and esprit de corps are second to none!”
Serving in the Navy, Foley is learning about being a more responsible leader, sailor and person through handling numerous responsibilities.
“The Navy has taught me responsibility for not only myself but for the people around me and the mission,” said Foley.
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