Chaparral graduate trains to become a U.S. Navy pilot

Nick Masucci (submitted photo)

Nick Masucci (submitted photo)

A 2008 Chaparral High School graduate and Scottsdale native is playing a key role in the lengthy and rigorous training process that transforms U.S. Navy officers into Navy pilots.

Ensign Nick Masucci is a student naval aviator with the “Rangers” Training Squadron (VT-28), based in Corpus, Christi, Texas, that operates the T-6B Texan II aircraft.

As a student naval aviator, Mr. Masucci is responsible for learning how to be a professional naval aviator by flying and knowing the aircrafts systems, procedures and operations to ensure he is prepared to carry out aviation missions in the fleet, according to a press release.

“I love my job because I believe the Navy gives the best opportunity to learn how to fly,” said Mr. Masucci in the release. “I am fortunate to be here and receive this training while serving my country.”

The T-6B Texan is a training aircraft that is powered by a 1,100 shaft horsepower, free-turbine, turboprop single-engine, four-bladed propeller, with a cruising speed of 310 mph.

VT-28’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 four 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 strike fighter jet, the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.

Many of the pilots will fly aircraft which take off from and land aboard aircraft carriers, a unique capability which allows the Navy to operate anywhere on the world’s oceans. Recently, Navy attack aircraft operating from aircraft carriers sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and from Middle East waters have launched hundreds of strike missions against terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s squadrons with the newest aircraft platforms, Mr.  Masucci said he and other VT-28 sailors are proud to be part of a war-fighting team that readily defends America at all times.

“The instructors at this command they make sure that you are up to par on everything going on,” said Mr. Masucci in the release. “They really make sure that we retain the information needed to be the most successful aviator we can be.”

Jobs are highly varied at VT-28, according to Navy officials. Approximately 69 men and women officers and 15 civilian employees make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from training the new aviators, maintaining airframes and engines, processing paperwork, along with handling and flying the aircraft.

“Leading this extraordinary team of Naval Officers and civilians is an honor,” said Cmdr. James T. Sultenfuss, commanding officer of VT-28, in the release.

Serving in the Navy, Mr. Masucci is learning about being a more responsible leader, Sailor and person through handling numerous responsibilities.

“Since serving in the Navy my confidence has grown,” said Mr. Masucci. “I have gained a lot of leadership opportunities which has assisted me in being a better person, pilot and leader.”

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