As of 2013, the U.S. Navy flies SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, piloted by officers who have qualified to become naval aviators. Before becoming helicopter pilots, candidates must first meet all of the qualifications to become an officer in the Navy. Next, they must complete intensive training to become helicopter pilots. Not everyone who enters training will earn their wings.
The first step to becoming a Navy helicopter pilot is to determine whether you meet the minimum qualifications to be an officer. Navy officers must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and have graduated with a strong grade-point average. Contact a recruiter to find out more about the specific GPA requirements. Candidates must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 19 and 35, and have fewer than three dependents under 18 years of age. They must also pass a physical and background check.
Talk to a Recruiter
A local recruiter is your best source of information regarding current vacancies and qualifications. He can tell you whether the Navy is accepting candidates who want to become helicopter pilots, or what the delay might be before you can join. The recruiter can also review your qualifications to ensure that you meet all requirements.
Primary Flight Training
Once the Navy accepts your application, you begin training at officer candidate school. The Navy’s OCS is located in Newport, Rhode Island. From there, you will go to Pensacola, Florida, to attend an air indoctrination course lasting about six weeks. This is followed by primary flight training, which introduces you to basic navigation and flight.
Once you successfully complete primary flight training, you can request helicopters as your preferred aircraft. Candidates then begin intermediate flight training, which continues their training in navigation and flight. You must then complete advanced naval flight training, where you will learn the Navy method of flying missions. Only after completing advanced naval flight training will candidates receive their wings. This does not end the training, however. Pilots are then assigned to a squadron to receive additional training that is specific to helicopters.
Before committing yourself to becoming a Navy helicopter pilot, consider whether your salary as a Navy officer is sufficient for your needs. Military pay is comprised of basic pay, allowances and special pay. Some components, such as basic pay, are based on rank and years of service. Other factors considered are the size of your family and your base location. Most officers enter the Navy with a pay grade of O-1 and basic pay of $4,493.70 per month, as of 2013. If you have dependents and live off-base, you can receive up to $1,100 per month for food and $881.10 per month for housing. You are also eligible for incentive pay, which starts at $125 per month and increases annually to a maximum of $840 per month. Other special pay, such as hazardous duty or hostile fire pay, may apply.