Many thanks to Candidate Cunningham for providing his personal experiences as he begins his career path of Naval Aviator!
I’d like to provide my recollection of preparing for my Navy Aeromedical Institute (NAMI) flight physical experience. Please keep in mind that this is just my experience and it may differ slightly from what another Student Naval Aviator (SNA) will encounter.
Oh by the way, side advice… acronyms, get used to them.
I will preface this by saying that this process is one that will test your patience, but you should remember that in the end, this is just another obstacle to challenge your tenacity and inherent reasoning behind applying. Realize that this process can be over for anyone at the drop of a hat, even after passing the ASTB, OCS, TBS, and any flight physical in between. If you are not fit to fly, NAMI will make sure that you do not get the chance. With all of this in mind, make sure that you truly want to become an Officer of Marines first and foremost.
I started my Marine Officer Commissioning Program path in April of 2013, while I was a junior in college. I always wanted to fly, but I won’t bore you with another self-proclaimed destiny to be a pilot.
Soon after talking to my Officer Selection Officer (OSO) and learning the different paths, I came to the realization that while there is an aviation guarantee, that does not mean one is guaranteed to be physically qualified to fly. However, I knew if I didn’t get eye surgery (PRK for me, the Navy accepts Lasik now), it was guaranteed that I wouldn’t even get a chance at flight school.
So in June of 2013, corrected eyes = check.
Hurry Up And…
Now the fun part, and overarching theme, waiting.
Due to personal medical conditions, that are unimportant in this context as everyone will have a different background, the earliest that I was eligible to schedule a flight physical in Pensacola was November 2014. Keep in mind, these variables are constantly changing based on your OSO, NAMI, and who knows what else.
In my opinion, my personal timeline moved about as quickly as it could have with my own situational constraints. As advice to others, this is where constant contact with your OSO and diligent medical record transmission comes into play. You have to build that relationship as early as possible with your OSO and the whole staff in general. This will come into play even more significantly when you go up on a selection board.
- Find and learn from an OSO
- Decide if you want to be a Marine Officer or if you only want to be a pilot.
- Learn more from your OSO and build a strong relationship with him or her.
- Train, every day.
- Get your medical history straight and know your life story.
- Submit everything to your OSO or other staff member quickly and accurately.
- Check on the status about what you just submitted.
- When they ask for more (because they will), provide it promptly.
- Wait, and then check again.
I know this list may sound a bit comical, but in all seriousness, you’ve got to keep pushing to get your package through. Just always be cognizant of the Motivated/Annoying border with your OSO and try to never cross it.
I will do a follow-up summary of my NAMI trip in Pensacola. While this pre-flight physical write-up may sound a bit daunting, NAMI was actually an incredibly fun experience and an awesome opportunity to meet like-minded people, some of which I still consider friends. Good luck!