I decided it was time that I wrote about selection and our personal experience with this process. Although Rob selected quite a few months ago, I hope that this blog at least provides some clarity for anyone confused about how this funny process works.
What is selection?
It’s a special day after each Navy / Marine Corps student pilot completes primary flight training and finds out which aircraft platform they will be flying for the rest of their career. It always happens on a Thursday and the student naval aviator will need to have completed all primary events in order to select.
The aircraft options for Marines are helicopters, jets, ospreys or C-130s.
The aircraft options for Navy are helicopters, jets, maritime (P8s / P3s), E2/C2 and E6.
Selection is truly a day of mixed emotions for any person connected to a student naval aviator. This day will provide clarification for many regarding the different places they could be living for the next 10+ years. For some, it is looked back on as one of the happiest days of their lives and for others a day they don’t want to re-live again.
The ironic part about selection is that the student has little control over the outcome no matter how well they performed in primary flight training. There are SO many different outcomes for different students:
– Some students get exactly what they wanted and are ecstatic!
– Some students absolutely crush it during training and still don’t get their number one choice.
– Some students get a platform that everyone was vying for and it actually wasn’t what they wanted. (Yes, that happens)
– Some students get a platform that wasn’t even in their top three and they’re essentially “drafted” into an aircraft because it was what the branch needed that week.
– Some students are grateful to even be selecting because it was a difficult road to get to this milestone.
The infamous words, “Needs of the Marine Corps” or “Needs of the Navy” come to mind during this process.
However with all of that said, I truly believe everyone will end up exactly where they are supposed to be.
So how does Selection actually work?
At the end of primary flight training, a student will submit to their squadron command their top three aircraft choices and *usually* a paragraph to accompany each of the choices about why they would like to fly aircraft x. Then the decision is in the hands of the Navy or Marine corps. They will evaluate the needs of the branch, the student’s scores and then the student’s desires. At the end, a student will be placed where the branch best sees fit. Side note: If a student wants jets, they need a minimum score of 50 (Navy) or 52 (Marines) to be selected for that platform.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone going through this process as a spouse or significant other it would be to: enjoy this day! Yes, it’s stressful but it’s the day where your special someone gets to find out what they will be flying for the service. A huge event and an exciting milestone for anyone. Take photos, dress up and smile!
One of the very experienced spouses in Rob’s command told me something once that has always stuck with me going into the days leading up to Rob’s selection:
“This is about SERVICE. At the end of the day, most of these students will become military pilots with wings on their chest and they will all be part of a bigger picture in service to our country. Their primary goal is to keep the troops on the ground SAFE and when you view it this way, it’s harder to be sad about being chosen for a particular community,” she said.
With these words in mind, Rob and I were pumped to find out what he would be flying for the Marine Corps that day. We did have a feeling about what he would get and (spoiler: we were right about that feeling)!
As his turn came in the VT6 squadron bar, my heart started beating incredibly fast. The CO (Commanding Officer of VT6) exclaimed “Carey, come up here.” As Rob walked up to the bar to find out his fate, all those late nights watching/helping him study, texts after flights/tests and restless nights rushed through my mind.
A fun or rather a nerve-wrecking tradition in VT6 is that the student’s spouse is called to flip over their card and reveal their “fate”. They promptly called me up and I almost tripped on the way up there in my heels because I was so nervous.
I flipped that card over fast *squinting* and read: South Field. Translating to…Helicopters! (View the actual moment below)
Whoo! It was something Rob really wanted and we were excited that he would have a chance to fly some of the amazing Marine Corps helicopters that he had talked about during primary flight training.
I remember my good friend popping some champagne later that day as we celebrated the news! It was pretty hilarious to tell my Dad who was a hardcore “burn and turn” fighter jet pilot that Rob would be a helo pilot, but my Dad has definitely come around. I often open up my Facebook messages and my Dad is sending me videos of military helos doing what they do best. Love you Dad! (If you’re reading this.)
I’m so excited for Rob and his future. We’ll know more about his path in the Marine Corps rotary wing in the Spring / Summer of 2018 and I will surely keep my readers updated as much as I can.
Until Next Time.