(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) – A 2011 Broken Arrow High School graduate and Broken Arrow native is playing a key role in the lengthy and rigorous training process that transforms new U.S. Navy Officers into Naval Aviators.
Ensign Geoffrey Fries is a student pilot with the “Rangers” Training Squadron (VT-27), based in Corpus, Christi, Texas, that operates the T-6B Texan II aircraft. As a student pilot, Fries is responsible for learning all of the tasks, steps, officer like qualities and the day-to-day life of what it means to be a Naval Aviator.
“I enjoy being able to fly everyday,” said Fries. “The sense of adventure and adrenaline rush is great, I love it.”
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-27’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 these pilots will fly aircraft which take off from and land aboard aircraft carriers and other aviation and air-capable ships, a unique capability which allows Naval Air Forces to operate integrally with surface forces anywhere on the world’s oceans. Recently, Navy strike aircraft operating from aircraft carriers sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and from Middle East waters have launched hundreds of 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, Fries said he and other VT-27 sailors are proud to be part of a war-fighting team that readily defends America at all times.
“I enjoy this command because its my first flying command,” said Fries. “It is always going to have a place in my heart.”
Jobs are highly varied at VT-27, according to Navy officials. Approximately 60 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.
“What the men and women of this squadron accomplish every day is nothing short of miraculous,” explained CDR Corbett Dixon, commanding officer of VT-27. “The students are in the process of moving from just another college graduate in society, to someone who sacrifices their own time and effort for society. That’s what it means to serve in the Navy. That’s what they’re learning as they learn to fly. And the staff here, the instructor pilots and civilians, put in an amazing amount of effort day in and day out, to ensure that we send the best young men and women forward to serve our nation, with all the skills, dedication and integrity necessary to serve successfully.”
Serving in the Navy, Fries is learning about being a more responsible leader, sailor and person through handling numerous responsibilities.
“All the interactions I have had in the Navy has made me a better person because it has exposed me to the different range of personalities, experiences, and qualities that I never would have been exposed to,” said Fries.