A Tour of the Air Wing: NROTC Students Visit Navy and Marine Corps Squadrons
Throughout two aviation-filled days, 45 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps midshipmen toured local squadrons based at Naval Air Station North Island and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Getting behind the flight line gates and close to high-tech aircraft is an exhilarating experience for any air show attendee or squadron guest. It is also daily life for thousands of Navy and Marine Corps aviators, aircrew, and maintainers. On October 21st and 22nd, many NROTC San Diego midshipmen took their first steps on an operational military airfield. They visited Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 at NAS North Island and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 764 at MCAS Miramar, respectively. Visit attendees enjoyed static displays of MH-60 Sierras, CH-53 Sea Stallions, UH-1Y Hueys, AH-1Z Cobras, and MV-22 Ospreys.
Students on the VMM-764 tour took turns flying an Osprey simulator, practiced flying the tower pattern from takeoff to landing, and experienced manipulating the flight controls. Ospreys are the only operational tiltrotor platform in the world. They have engines mounted in rotating nacelles, giving them the flexibility to fly in “airplane mode” or “helicopter mode.”
The purpose of these visits is to expose NROTC midshipmen “to the capabilities of the fleet,” Midshipman Hanna Palalay describes. “We are learning different career paths and these unit visits help us better decide what we might want to do in the future.”
Even if they do not desire to become pilots, flight officers, or aviation maintenance officers, the students benefit from understanding how facets of the Navy and Marine Corps work together. MIDN Palalay went on to describe that from “these past squadron visits, I have learned how different aircraft operate,” and “how they are utilized day in and day out.” Part of this utilization involves working closely with Navy ships, special forces, and Marine infantry units.
Visit attendees were able to “interact with multiple aircraft and experience firsthand what it is like to be in one. Coming from someone who has never seen an aircraft in such close proximity,” MIDN Palalay “believes that these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. What better time to experience this than as a midshipman?”