The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) was founded in 1945 at the Navy's Patuxent River Flight Test Center in order to ensure that test pilots of the day could bring their skill levels up to the demands placed upon them by the rapidly evolving state of the art in aircraft technology. Patuxent River's chief project engineer, Commander Sydney Sherby, proposed an indoctrination course for Navy flight test pilots with a curriculum that covered the fundamentals of aerodynamics, procedures for aircraft performance testing, evaluation of aircraft stability and control characteristics, miscellaneous tests and trials, actual in-flight performance testing and flight test reporting in a standardized format. This initial Flight Test Pilots' Training Program fit into 37 hours of classroom work with nine hours of flight time spread over a ten week period. Classes met Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings with Sherby appointed as officer-in-charge. Classroom instruction was provided by Sherby with Lieutenant H. E. McNeely working the flight instructor side of the course. The first aircraft used for training purposes were the F-6F, FM-2, SBD,TBM and SNJ which were borrowed from Flight Test to support the initial cadre of test pilots.
USNTPS gradually grew beyond it's initial "Class 0" start to evolve into a full time course of study that consumes nearly a year of dedicated effort involving over 500 hours of classroom and roughly 100 hours of flight time. As many as 36 experienced pilots, flight officers, and test engineers from each branch of the US service and a handful of foreign countries form each class with Class 135 beginning their education at USNTPS in July 2008. In addition to the "original" fixed wing flying qualities and performance based curriculum, USNTPS added a Rotary Wing course of study in 1961 and an Airborne Systems curriculum in 1975 to ensure that the technical aspects of each of the Navy's primary test disciplines was being addressed.
Today, the U S Naval Test Pilot School remains at the forefront of aviation education by continuing to investigate and develop new flight test techniques, publish manuals for use of the aviation test community for standardization of flight test techniques and project reporting, and conducting special projects as requested by the flight test community. The school maintains its staff as a focal point of expertise to provide the aviation test community with engineering and training consultation through active participation in technical councils, NATO flight test committees, and professional organizations such as the Society of Experimental test Pilots and the Society of Flight Test Engineers.
Over 63 years have passed since CDR Sherby's first test pilot class began formal training of Naval aviators to perform duties as flight test pilots. Hopefully the next 63 years will see the same level of accomplishment, energy, and dedicated performance by the school as the world of Naval aviation moves on to new challenges and technology.