A Mineral native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.
Lt. junior grade Maggie Suhling is a student pilot with the “Golden Eagles” of Training Squadron VT-22, based in Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies T-45C Goshawk aircraft.
A Navy student pilot is responsible for learning the procedures and skills needed to fly naval aircraft both effectively and efficiently for the fleet.
“The best part is being allowed to go out and apply what you’ve learned on solo flights,” Suhling said.
Suhling credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Mineral.
“I learned how to be responsible and handle many time commitments, which has been crucial in dealing with an ever-changing flight schedule,” Suhling said.
The T-45C Goshawk is a tandem-seat, jet trainer aircraft powered by a twin-spool non-afterburn turbofan engine with 5,527 pounds of thrust and airspeed of 645 mph.
VT-22’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 many phases of flight training in order 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 fighter attack jet aircraft or the F-35 Lightning joint strike fighter jet. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.
A key element of the Navy that the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
(Article by Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach)
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s June 13, 2019 issue.