Naval Air: Wings Of Gold For Foreigners


October 10, 2009: Recently, two Spanish officers completed two years of training and received their "Wings of Gold" (along with 14 American naval officers), in recognition of completing the grueling course required to become a naval aviator. The hardest part of the course involves learning how to land on an aircraft carrier, especially at night ("night traps," with the "trap" referring to the tail hook on the aircraft snagging the cable slung across the deck to stop the landing aircraft). Training naval aviators takes from 18-48 months, depending on the type of aircraft and specific job of the trainee. The helicopter pilots, of course, do not have to learn traps, but the less tricky (but still potentially dangerous) landing on a carrier deck (which is often moving in all directions, during rough weather.) Since 1910, over 160,000 pilots have earned their "Wings of Gold." This includes thousands of foreign pilots, who come to the United States to receive what is considered the finest naval aviator training in the world.

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