Students report to Training Air Wing ONE at NAS Meridian from primary flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX or NAS Whiting Field, Milton, FL. They immediately begin anywhere from eight to twelve months of training here at Naval Air Station Meridian depending on their selected fleet tailhook community.
Training begins in the Ground Training department of Training Wing ONE and consists of three weeks of classroom instruction. Students attend classes on subjects that include Engineering (T-45C systems), Aerodynamics, Meteorology, Flight Rules and Regulations, and Instrument Navigation. During this ground school training they also begin simulator events that teach them capabilities and systems in the T-45C and how to deal with malfunctions of those systems.
The T-45 Strike Flight Curriculum is comprised of 21 stages split between an Intermediate phase and Advanced phase. During these 21 stages students will fly approximately 160 hours in the T-45C aircraft of which nearly 40 hours are solo. Students will also fly approximately 96 hours in aircraft simulators before they complete the syllabus.
The first eight stages of training are designed to introduce the student naval aviator to jet aircraft and provide a basis for future stages. They include, Instrument training, Jet Familiarization flights, Formation flights, Night Familiarization flights, and Land Based Carrier Qualifications.
During these stages the students are qualified to fly solo in the T-45C in all weather conditions, they learn to fly in two and four plane formation flights, and they learn how to land the T-45C the same way they will on an Aircraft Carrier.
The later stages of training introduce the student to the strike community with Operational Navigation in which the students learn to plan and fly low level flight routes. They also fly Weapons and Air Combat Maneuvers which introduce the student to different offensive weapons and tactics. In weapons stage, the students drop 25 lb. practice bombs at a target range near Meridian and Air Combat Maneuvers with other aircraft. These stages prepare the students for the tactical jets that they will be flying when they leave Meridian for the U.S. Navy fleet.
The syllabus culminates in the Carrier Qualification Stage when the students fly aboard a fleet aircraft carrier to complete their Carrier Qualification and make their first arrested landings. Every student must carrier qualify by completing four touch and go and ten arrested landings aboard an aircraft carrier before they earn their Wings of Gold.