USNTPS

 

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Fact Sheet

Check out fast facts from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School!

The United States Naval Test Pilot School trains the world’s finest developmental test pilots, flight officers, engineers, industry and foreign partners in full spectrum test and evaluation of aircraft and aircraft systems. Located in Patuxent River, Maryland, the school is forefront in development of modern test techniques and leads aviation in standardization of flight test. It is the only domestic source of rotary wing test pilots serving as dedicated test pilot school of the U.S. Army. Its highly competitive program has graduated more than 90 NASA astronauts to date.

The school's academic rigor and excellence lends to its highly competitive admissions process. Though not required, applicants typically hold degrees in engineering, physical science or math. Those without requisite math or engineering courses can make themselves competitive bolstering transcripts with these classes or completing correspondence courses at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Prospective test pilots have typically flown over 1,000 flight hours. Military aviators are evaluated by a selection board for flight qualification, professional performance, academic background and requirements of the service. Engineers are evaluated similarly with emphasis on experience, performance, and flight suitability.

The Navy and Marine Corps also selects officers to attend the Empire Test Pilot School in Boscombe Down, United Kingdom; The École du Personnel Navigant d'Essais et de Réception (EPNER) in Istres, France; and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply.

Notional Selection Board Schedule


For specific information on each board, refer to the NPC Test Pilot Board Page

 

December Selection Board for July Class

  • Application announcement Issued: October/November

  • Applications accepted: Up to mid-November

  • Selection Board convenes: Mid December

  • Results posted: Early January

 

Expected arrival dates for pre-arrival training:

  • Fixed Wing: March 1

  • Rotary Wing: May 1

  • Systems: June 1

 

June Selection Board for January Class

  • Application announcement Issued: March/April

  • Applications accepted: Up to mid-May

  • Board convenes: Mid June

  • Results posted: Early July

 

Expected arrival dates for pre-arrival training:

  • Fixed Wing: August 1

  • Rotary Wing: November 1 

  • Systems: December 1

United States Students


United States Navy: To be eligible for board consideration, submit your command-endorsed application to the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Customer Service Center (CSC) at this email address. Refer to the NPC Test Pilot Board Page for application deadlines and requirements.

United States Marine Corps: Eligible applicants must be commissioned active-duty Regular or Reserve officers holding the grade of First Lieutenant through Major who are designated a Naval Aviator, NFO, or UAS MAGTF EWO with an active current security clearance of secret or higher. Submit your application via online questionnaire on MAX.gov. (Note: the questionnaire is available from mid-October to mid-December for the January board and from mid-March to mid-May for the June board.)

United States Army: Applications from eligible active duty career-status commissioned and warrant officers for the Army Experimental Test Pilot Program are reviewed by an internal board and subject to a two-phase selection process. For details on minimum qualifications and desirable credentials, contact the Army’s Experimental Test Pilot (XP) recruiting team at this email address and review the latest MILPER messages on the Army Human Resources Command website.

United States Air Force: The USAF Test Pilot School Selection Board selects a limited number of flight test Combat Systems Officer, flight test engineer, fixed-wing test pilot, and rotary-wing test pilot students to send to USNTPS each year. Contact the USAF TPS Commandant’s office at (661) 277-3000 or visit the USAF TPS website for eligibility criteria and application deadlines.

International Students


The United States Test Pilot School admits a number of international students each year. The USNTPS International Military Student Officer (IMSO) manages all stages of international participation from application to arrival. The IMSO is also the liaison for all international students during their course of study at USNTPS.

International test directorates interested in sending students to long or short courses at USNTPS should contact the Security Cooperation Officer at the Office of Defense Cooperation in your country's American Embassy.

The refined combination of classroom, simulation, inflight instruction and mentorship makes USNTPS the most prestigious flight test school in the world. Graduating two classes annually, the rigorous ten month program is made of 530 academic hours, 100 sorties, 120 flight hours and 25 technical reports. The syllabus is divided into three parts: fixed-wing, rotary-wing and airborne systems.

With emphasis on engineering depth and project variety, the course is designed to prepare students to meet requirements of both naval developmental and operational test and evaluation, in addition to other research, development test and evaluation activities across other U.S. military services, government agencies and international partners.

The school also offers a cooperative Masters program with the Naval Postgraduate School.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Short Courses

USNTPS offers high-impact condensed training in short-course form to the developmental flight test community including industry and academia aircrew, engineers or scientists, and military attendees including naval pilots, flight officers and enlisted personnel with relevant interest and experience.

Admission for short courses is non-competitive and consist of two-week introductory-level courses in aircraft and systems test and evaluation. The school's short courses provide a basis for safe and effective test project planning, execution and reporting and feature complete guided exercises with demonstration flights and ground simulators.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Short Courses | 2021

05 Apr - 16 Apr

Introduction to Airborne Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

19 Apr - 30 Apr

Introduction to Fixed Wing Flying Qualities at Patuxent River

14 Jun - 25 Jun

Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

12 Jul - 23 Jul

Introduction to Rotary Wing Flying Qualities and Performance at Patuxent River

09 Aug - 20 Aug

Introduction to Airborne Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

 

INTRODUCTION TO AIRCRAFT AND SYSTEMS TEST & EVALUATION
Prepares attendees for airborne mission systems test and evaluation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO FIXED WING FLYING QUALITIES
Prepares attendees for fixed-wing aircraft flying qualities, performance and aircraft avionics systems test and evaluation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO ROTARY WING FLYING QUALITIES & PERFORMANCE
Prepares attendees for rotary-wing aircraft flying qualities, performance and aircraft missions and weapons systems test and evaluation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS FLIGHT TEST
Introduces and exposes students to unmanned aerial systems flight test methods and techniques.

 

SPECIALTY COURSES
On request, specialized courses can be prepared and, if practical, presented at the customer’s site. Specialty courses durate from one to two weeks and typically include a simulation and/or flight portion of the course.

 

SHORT COURSE FLEET SEATS

*Application period for fiscal 2020 is closed. Application period for fiscal 2021 to be announced.

27 Jan - 07 Feb

Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

 

24 Feb - 06 Mar

Introduction to Aircraft and Systems Test & Evaluation at China Lake

 

23 Mar - 03 Apr

Introduction to Aircraft and Systems Test & Evaluation at Patuxent River

 

06 Apr - 17 Apr

Introduction to Fixed Wing Flying Qualities & Performance at Patuxent River

 

01 Jun - 12 Jun

Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

 

06 Jul - 17 Jul

Introduction to Rotary Wing Flying Qualities & Performance at Patuxent River

 

10 Aug - 21 Aug

Introduction to Aircraft and Systems Test & Evaluation at Patuxent River

 

USNTPS funds tuition for a limited number of short course seats per year on a competitive basis. Financial responsibility for temporary duty assignment resides with the attendee’s command.

Competitive candidates should be high performing individuals interested in learning more about developmental flight test, and possess a strong academic background in mathematics. Engineering and science degrees provide the requisite math background but are not prerequisites for selection. This opportunity may be beneficial for officers considering attendance to USNTPS, however, participation in short courses is not a requirement for acceptance into USNTPS’ long course.

Short courses are also available to fleet candidates for purchase. Please contact the USNTPS Short Course department if your command is interested in any of the short courses.

Short Course Fleet Seat Offerings and Organization Brochure

Contact Information

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Short Course Department | 5.0_ct&[email protected] | 301-757-5049

History

The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) was founded March 12, 1945 at the Navy's Flight Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, by Cmdr. Sydney Sherby. The purpose of the school was to ensure that test pilots of the day were formally trained to handle the high demands and expectations placed upon them by the rapidly evolving state of aircraft technology.

As Patuxent River's chief project engineer, Sherby proposed an indoctrination course for Navy flight test pilots with a curriculum that spanned aerodynamics, performance, stability and control characteristics, miscellaneous tests and trials, and flight test reporting.

The early Flight Test Pilot Training Program consisted of 37 hours of classroom academics and nine hours of flight time spread over a 10- week period. Classes met Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and were taught by Sherby. Students in Class 0 flew the F-6F Hellcat, FM-2 Wildcat, SBD Dauntless, TBM Avenger and SNJ and were taught in-flight test and evaluation techniques by Lt. Cmdr. H. E. McNeely.

The USNTPS flight test syllabus gradually grew beyond its humble "Class 0" beginnings and evolved into a full-time course of study that now consumes nearly a year of dedicated effort involving over 500 hours of classroom instruction and 100 hours of flight time in more than 15 different type/model/series aircraft. As many as 36 experienced pilots, flight officers, and test engineers from all branches of the U.S. military and international partners make up each class. Over 4,200 students have graduated from USNTPS.

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 were being addressed.

Currently, USNTPS is the only U.S. institution with a formal rotary wing test pilot syllabus and the only test pilot school in the world with a dedicated airborne systems curriculum.

Today, USNTPS remains at the forefront of aviation education by continuing to investigate and develop new flight test techniques, publish manuals for use by the aviation test community in standardizing 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 70 years have passed since Cmdr. Sherby's first test pilot class began formal training of naval aviators to perform duties as flight test pilots. The next 70 years promise to see the same level of innovative accomplishment, tireless energy, and dedicated performance by the school as the world of naval aviation evolves and moves on to new challenges and advanced technology.

Alumni

The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Alumni Association was established to foster and enhance the relationship between USNTPS and its alumni and associates, and to support the USNTPS mission to train the world’s finest test pilots, Naval Flight Officers, and flight test engineers.

Cmdr. Jeremy DeBons

Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School

A native of Richmond, Texas, Commander Jeremy DeBons graduated with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2002 and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Designated a Naval Aviator in 2004, he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 “Golden Dragons” in October 2005, flying the F/A-18C Hornet at NAF Atsugi, Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. During this assignment he supported embarked operations in the Pacific theater with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

In 2008, Cmdr. DeBons attended the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California in preparation for an exchange tour to the French Test Pilot School (EPNER) in Istres, France. He graduated EPNER in 2010 as an Experimental Test Pilot – Airplanes and received a Specialized Master’s degree in Experimental Flight Test Engineering from the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE) in Toulouse, France.

In 2010, Cmdr. DeBons reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 “Salty Dogs” at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. While assigned to VX-23, he was project officer and test pilot for F/A-18 weapons integration programs, aircrew systems, avionics and engine upgrades, surrogate testing for X-47B unmanned shipboard operations, and F-35 instrument certification and initial weapons separation testing.

In 2013, Cmdr. DeBons reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 “Kestrels,” where he served as Safety Officer, Maintenance Officer and Operations Officer. He supported numerous underway periods and international exercises with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and SOUTHERN SEAS 2015 aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73).

Cmdr. DeBons was a fixed wing and airborne systems instructor at U.S. Naval Test Pilot School from 2016-2018, and was qualified in F/A-18F, T-6B, U-6A, NU-1B and X-26A aircraft. As an exercise monitor, he led major curriculum updates in augmented flying qualities and modern aircraft design. Cmdr. DeBons reported to PMA-259 in November 2018 and served as Deputy Program Manager for Advanced Development of Air-to-Air Missiles.

His personal decorations include three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. Cmdr. DeBons has flown 3,500 mishap-free flight hours in over 100 different types of aircraft.

Lt. Col. Aaron Kia

Executive Officer, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School

Lieutenant Colonel Aaron M. Kia is a U.S. Army Acquisition Officer and currently serves as the Executive Officer of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD.

Originally from Hawaii, Lt. Col. Kia commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Aviation Branch through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. In 2016, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Science in Engineering Systems.

Lt. Col. Kia’s acquisition assignments include: Flight Test Division Chief and Experimental Test Pilot at Redstone Test Center executing developmental flight test activities in support of three major defense acquisition programs (AH-64 Apache, MQ-1 Gray Eagle, and RQ-7 Shadow); Assistant Product Manager at the Apache Project Office supporting AH-64E development and modernization; Executive Officer to the Director, Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team enabling synchronization of Army, DoD, Congressional, and industry partners; and Assistant Program Manager at the Advanced Aviation Assessment Program Office developing precision strike systems for U.S. Special Operations Command.

Lt. Col. Kia’s operational assignments include: Platoon Leader and Assistant Operations Officer with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Attack Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade; Executive Officer, and later, Chief of the Military Transition Team, Iraq Assistance Group; and AH-64D Attack Company Commander, 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009-2010 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011-2012.

Lt. Col. Kia is a graduate of the Army Airborne School, Combat Advisor School, Joint Firepower Course, Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Lt. Col. Kia is a rated aviator in the AH-64D, AH-64E, UH-60A/L, UH-72A, and C-12D with 600 hours of combat flight time. He is level 3 certified in Program Management and Test & Evaluation.

Lt. Col. Kia’s awards include: Bronze Star Medal (1 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (1 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (1 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), Meritorious Unit Citation (1 OLC), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (5th Award), NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Senior Aviator Badge, Combat Action Badge and Parachutist Badge.

Lt. Col. Kia is married to the former Gari-Ann Sagun of Haleiwa, Hawaii and they have two children, Ellison (8) and James (5).

The United States Naval Test Pilot School trains the world’s finest developmental test pilots, flight officers, engineers, industry and foreign partners in full spectrum test and evaluation of aircraft and aircraft systems. Located in Patuxent River, Maryland, the school is forefront in development of modern test techniques and leads aviation in standardization of flight test. It is the only domestic source of rotary wing test pilots serving as dedicated test pilot school of the U.S. Army. Its highly competitive program has graduated more than 90 NASA astronauts to date.

The school's academic rigor and excellence lends to its highly competitive admissions process. Though not required, applicants typically hold degrees in engineering, physical science or math. Those without requisite math or engineering courses can make themselves competitive bolstering transcripts with these classes or completing correspondence courses at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Prospective test pilots have typically flown over 1,000 flight hours. Military aviators are evaluated by a selection board for flight qualification, professional performance, academic background and requirements of the service. Engineers are evaluated similarly with emphasis on experience, performance, and flight suitability.

The Navy and Marine Corps also selects officers to attend the Empire Test Pilot School in Boscombe Down, United Kingdom; The École du Personnel Navigant d'Essais et de Réception (EPNER) in Istres, France; and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply.

Notional Selection Board Schedule


For specific information on each board, refer to the NPC Test Pilot Board Page

 

December Selection Board for July Class

  • Application announcement Issued: October/November

  • Applications accepted: Up to mid-November

  • Selection Board convenes: Mid December

  • Results posted: Early January

 

Expected arrival dates for pre-arrival training:

  • Fixed Wing: March 1

  • Rotary Wing: May 1

  • Systems: June 1

 

June Selection Board for January Class

  • Application announcement Issued: March/April

  • Applications accepted: Up to mid-May

  • Board convenes: Mid June

  • Results posted: Early July

 

Expected arrival dates for pre-arrival training:

  • Fixed Wing: August 1

  • Rotary Wing: November 1 

  • Systems: December 1

United States Students


United States Navy: To be eligible for board consideration, submit your command-endorsed application to the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Customer Service Center (CSC) at this email address. Refer to the NPC Test Pilot Board Page for application deadlines and requirements.

United States Marine Corps: Eligible applicants must be commissioned active-duty Regular or Reserve officers holding the grade of First Lieutenant through Major who are designated a Naval Aviator, NFO, or UAS MAGTF EWO with an active current security clearance of secret or higher. Submit your application via online questionnaire on MAX.gov. (Note: the questionnaire is available from mid-October to mid-December for the January board and from mid-March to mid-May for the June board.)

United States Army: Applications from eligible active duty career-status commissioned and warrant officers for the Army Experimental Test Pilot Program are reviewed by an internal board and subject to a two-phase selection process. For details on minimum qualifications and desirable credentials, contact the Army’s Experimental Test Pilot (XP) recruiting team at this email address and review the latest MILPER messages on the Army Human Resources Command website.

United States Air Force: The USAF Test Pilot School Selection Board selects a limited number of flight test Combat Systems Officer, flight test engineer, fixed-wing test pilot, and rotary-wing test pilot students to send to USNTPS each year. Contact the USAF TPS Commandant’s office at (661) 277-3000 or visit the USAF TPS website for eligibility criteria and application deadlines.

International Students


The United States Test Pilot School admits a number of international students each year. The USNTPS International Military Student Officer (IMSO) manages all stages of international participation from application to arrival. The IMSO is also the liaison for all international students during their course of study at USNTPS.

International test directorates interested in sending students to long or short courses at USNTPS should contact the Security Cooperation Officer at the Office of Defense Cooperation in your country's American Embassy.

The refined combination of classroom, simulation, inflight instruction and mentorship makes USNTPS the most prestigious flight test school in the world. Graduating two classes annually, the rigorous ten month program is made of 530 academic hours, 100 sorties, 120 flight hours and 25 technical reports. The syllabus is divided into three parts: fixed-wing, rotary-wing and airborne systems.

With emphasis on engineering depth and project variety, the course is designed to prepare students to meet requirements of both naval developmental and operational test and evaluation, in addition to other research, development test and evaluation activities across other U.S. military services, government agencies and international partners.

The school also offers a cooperative Masters program with the Naval Postgraduate School.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Short Courses

USNTPS offers high-impact condensed training in short-course form to the developmental flight test community including industry and academia aircrew, engineers or scientists, and military attendees including naval pilots, flight officers and enlisted personnel with relevant interest and experience.

Admission for short courses is non-competitive and consist of two-week introductory-level courses in aircraft and systems test and evaluation. The school's short courses provide a basis for safe and effective test project planning, execution and reporting and feature complete guided exercises with demonstration flights and ground simulators.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Short Courses | 2021

05 Apr - 16 Apr

Introduction to Airborne Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

19 Apr - 30 Apr

Introduction to Fixed Wing Flying Qualities at Patuxent River

14 Jun - 25 Jun

Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

12 Jul - 23 Jul

Introduction to Rotary Wing Flying Qualities and Performance at Patuxent River

09 Aug - 20 Aug

Introduction to Airborne Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

 

INTRODUCTION TO AIRCRAFT AND SYSTEMS TEST & EVALUATION
Prepares attendees for airborne mission systems test and evaluation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO FIXED WING FLYING QUALITIES
Prepares attendees for fixed-wing aircraft flying qualities, performance and aircraft avionics systems test and evaluation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO ROTARY WING FLYING QUALITIES & PERFORMANCE
Prepares attendees for rotary-wing aircraft flying qualities, performance and aircraft missions and weapons systems test and evaluation.

 

INTRODUCTION TO UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS FLIGHT TEST
Introduces and exposes students to unmanned aerial systems flight test methods and techniques.

 

SPECIALTY COURSES
On request, specialized courses can be prepared and, if practical, presented at the customer’s site. Specialty courses durate from one to two weeks and typically include a simulation and/or flight portion of the course.

 

SHORT COURSE FLEET SEATS

*Application period for fiscal 2020 is closed. Application period for fiscal 2021 to be announced.

27 Jan - 07 Feb

Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

 

24 Feb - 06 Mar

Introduction to Aircraft and Systems Test & Evaluation at China Lake

 

23 Mar - 03 Apr

Introduction to Aircraft and Systems Test & Evaluation at Patuxent River

 

06 Apr - 17 Apr

Introduction to Fixed Wing Flying Qualities & Performance at Patuxent River

 

01 Jun - 12 Jun

Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test at Patuxent River

 

06 Jul - 17 Jul

Introduction to Rotary Wing Flying Qualities & Performance at Patuxent River

 

10 Aug - 21 Aug

Introduction to Aircraft and Systems Test & Evaluation at Patuxent River

 

USNTPS funds tuition for a limited number of short course seats per year on a competitive basis. Financial responsibility for temporary duty assignment resides with the attendee’s command.

Competitive candidates should be high performing individuals interested in learning more about developmental flight test, and possess a strong academic background in mathematics. Engineering and science degrees provide the requisite math background but are not prerequisites for selection. This opportunity may be beneficial for officers considering attendance to USNTPS, however, participation in short courses is not a requirement for acceptance into USNTPS’ long course.

Short courses are also available to fleet candidates for purchase. Please contact the USNTPS Short Course department if your command is interested in any of the short courses.

Short Course Fleet Seat Offerings and Organization Brochure

Contact Information

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Short Course Department | 5.0_ct&[email protected] | 301-757-5049

History

The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) was founded March 12, 1945 at the Navy's Flight Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, by Cmdr. Sydney Sherby. The purpose of the school was to ensure that test pilots of the day were formally trained to handle the high demands and expectations placed upon them by the rapidly evolving state of aircraft technology.

As Patuxent River's chief project engineer, Sherby proposed an indoctrination course for Navy flight test pilots with a curriculum that spanned aerodynamics, performance, stability and control characteristics, miscellaneous tests and trials, and flight test reporting.

The early Flight Test Pilot Training Program consisted of 37 hours of classroom academics and nine hours of flight time spread over a 10- week period. Classes met Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and were taught by Sherby. Students in Class 0 flew the F-6F Hellcat, FM-2 Wildcat, SBD Dauntless, TBM Avenger and SNJ and were taught in-flight test and evaluation techniques by Lt. Cmdr. H. E. McNeely.

The USNTPS flight test syllabus gradually grew beyond its humble "Class 0" beginnings and evolved into a full-time course of study that now consumes nearly a year of dedicated effort involving over 500 hours of classroom instruction and 100 hours of flight time in more than 15 different type/model/series aircraft. As many as 36 experienced pilots, flight officers, and test engineers from all branches of the U.S. military and international partners make up each class. Over 4,200 students have graduated from USNTPS.

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 were being addressed.

Currently, USNTPS is the only U.S. institution with a formal rotary wing test pilot syllabus and the only test pilot school in the world with a dedicated airborne systems curriculum.

Today, USNTPS remains at the forefront of aviation education by continuing to investigate and develop new flight test techniques, publish manuals for use by the aviation test community in standardizing 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 70 years have passed since Cmdr. Sherby's first test pilot class began formal training of naval aviators to perform duties as flight test pilots. The next 70 years promise to see the same level of innovative accomplishment, tireless energy, and dedicated performance by the school as the world of naval aviation evolves and moves on to new challenges and advanced technology.

Alumni

The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Alumni Association was established to foster and enhance the relationship between USNTPS and its alumni and associates, and to support the USNTPS mission to train the world’s finest test pilots, Naval Flight Officers, and flight test engineers.

Cmdr. Jeremy DeBons

Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School

A native of Richmond, Texas, Commander Jeremy DeBons graduated with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2002 and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Designated a Naval Aviator in 2004, he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 “Golden Dragons” in October 2005, flying the F/A-18C Hornet at NAF Atsugi, Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. During this assignment he supported embarked operations in the Pacific theater with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

In 2008, Cmdr. DeBons attended the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California in preparation for an exchange tour to the French Test Pilot School (EPNER) in Istres, France. He graduated EPNER in 2010 as an Experimental Test Pilot – Airplanes and received a Specialized Master’s degree in Experimental Flight Test Engineering from the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE) in Toulouse, France.

In 2010, Cmdr. DeBons reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 “Salty Dogs” at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. While assigned to VX-23, he was project officer and test pilot for F/A-18 weapons integration programs, aircrew systems, avionics and engine upgrades, surrogate testing for X-47B unmanned shipboard operations, and F-35 instrument certification and initial weapons separation testing.

In 2013, Cmdr. DeBons reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 “Kestrels,” where he served as Safety Officer, Maintenance Officer and Operations Officer. He supported numerous underway periods and international exercises with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and SOUTHERN SEAS 2015 aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73).

Cmdr. DeBons was a fixed wing and airborne systems instructor at U.S. Naval Test Pilot School from 2016-2018, and was qualified in F/A-18F, T-6B, U-6A, NU-1B and X-26A aircraft. As an exercise monitor, he led major curriculum updates in augmented flying qualities and modern aircraft design. Cmdr. DeBons reported to PMA-259 in November 2018 and served as Deputy Program Manager for Advanced Development of Air-to-Air Missiles.

His personal decorations include three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. Cmdr. DeBons has flown 3,500 mishap-free flight hours in over 100 different types of aircraft.

Lt. Col. Aaron Kia

Executive Officer, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School

Lieutenant Colonel Aaron M. Kia is a U.S. Army Acquisition Officer and currently serves as the Executive Officer of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD.

Originally from Hawaii, Lt. Col. Kia commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Aviation Branch through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. In 2016, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Science in Engineering Systems.

Lt. Col. Kia’s acquisition assignments include: Flight Test Division Chief and Experimental Test Pilot at Redstone Test Center executing developmental flight test activities in support of three major defense acquisition programs (AH-64 Apache, MQ-1 Gray Eagle, and RQ-7 Shadow); Assistant Product Manager at the Apache Project Office supporting AH-64E development and modernization; Executive Officer to the Director, Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team enabling synchronization of Army, DoD, Congressional, and industry partners; and Assistant Program Manager at the Advanced Aviation Assessment Program Office developing precision strike systems for U.S. Special Operations Command.

Lt. Col. Kia’s operational assignments include: Platoon Leader and Assistant Operations Officer with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Attack Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade; Executive Officer, and later, Chief of the Military Transition Team, Iraq Assistance Group; and AH-64D Attack Company Commander, 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009-2010 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011-2012.

Lt. Col. Kia is a graduate of the Army Airborne School, Combat Advisor School, Joint Firepower Course, Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Lt. Col. Kia is a rated aviator in the AH-64D, AH-64E, UH-60A/L, UH-72A, and C-12D with 600 hours of combat flight time. He is level 3 certified in Program Management and Test & Evaluation.

Lt. Col. Kia’s awards include: Bronze Star Medal (1 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (1 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (1 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), Meritorious Unit Citation (1 OLC), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (5th Award), NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Senior Aviator Badge, Combat Action Badge and Parachutist Badge.

Lt. Col. Kia is married to the former Gari-Ann Sagun of Haleiwa, Hawaii and they have two children, Ellison (8) and James (5).

Our Fleet

Aero-M

C-12 Huron

C-26A Metroliner "ASTARS III"

F/A-18F Super Hornet

NU-1B Otter

OH-58C Kiowa

T-6B Texan II

T-38C Talon

U-6A Beaver

UH-60 Blackhawk

UH-72A Lakota

X8-M

X-26A Frigate

United States Naval Test Pilot School