Flight School Timeline - Student Aviator

Wednesday, October 19

Hey everyone! I wanted to write this post about the flight school timeline because when my man first started, I googled everything but couldn't seem to find a good timeline. All of the following info is my personal experience and you must know that everyone has a different experience! Also, each person's timeline is different. They may tell you 6 months and it takes 10 months; so don't expect your timeline to look exactly like this!

When the aviator graduates from Officer Candidate School, they are usually given a couple weeks to get their things together before reporting to NAS Pensacola. My aviator was given 4 weeks to come home and pack his life up then drive down to Florida.

After they check in in Pensacola, they wait to start IFS (this process can be anywhere from a week to 4 months).

IFS - Introductory Flight Screening: This portion of training takes place in Pensacola, Florida and is where the pilot learns to fly a Cesna or Piper Warrior airframe. Some aviators get to skip this portion if they have already obtained their private pilots license. During IFS, the aviator has a series of flights and tests to become FAA certified.

API - Aviation Preflight Indoctrination: This is the "fun and easiest" part of flight school according to my hubby. They spend four weeks learning about weather, aerodynamics, aircraft engines, systems and other things needed to fly the T-6. After the classroom work, they learn basic survival skills. This includes the infamous helo-dunker where they are tipped upside-down in a cockpit, submerged underwater and told to get out. Overall, this process takes about 6-8 weeks.

Primary: Primary is held in either NAS Whiting Field or NAS Corpus Christi (I highly recommend staying in Pensacola - especially if the aviator wants to go Helos!) Primary took about 9 months to complete. Primary is by far the most challenging part of flight school. Its here that aviators learn to fly the T-6 Texan. They have multiple tests, simulations and flights to go through before they are done. I wasn't with my aviator as he was going through this (I was finishing up college) but he seemed to be stressed out to the max! This is a time to really support your aviator and do what you can to help them because its a crazy amount of work. If you aviator makes it through then they will select their airframe. This is an exciting time yet still stressful because you have to pick the airframe you want to fly in the future.

Advanced: Once the aviator is selected for an airframe you will have to move to where that airframe's location is. (If anyone has any questions about where advanced is held, send me an email and I'll tell you - I don't want to put all the training bases on the internet.) Advanced has been pretty busy and stressful this far. Not quite like primary but still challenging. My aviator selected Helos so he is having to re-learn how to fly a rotary aircraft. We were told that advanced takes about 6 months but its looking more like 8 months before we get sent to the fleet readiness squadron (FRS). After that, we don't know whats going to happen but thats part of the Navy life! Adventure is out there!

If anyone has any questions, please send me an email. I know what it it like to be a confused student aviator significant other so I'm happy to help anyone else out.


  1. Hi Megan!

    I just discovered your blog and this post about the Navy Flight School Timeline is so helpful! I had a quick question for you that I was hoping you might know the answer to. Do you know approximately what the time duration is between when someone completes primary until when they start advanced? I hope that makes sense! Thanks for your help!

    1. Hey! I'm so glad it was helpful :)
      I know I replied to your email but I wanted to say it here too in case anyone else is wondering. The wait between primary and advance can vary a lot based on the current number of students in the pipeline and the airframe the pilot selects. My husband only had about 2 weeks between primary and advanced but I know some aviators who have had to wait almost 6 months to start advanced. Word on the street is right now it is about a 3-6 month wait but it is always changing!


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