Naval Test Pilot School graduates 35 from Class 145

By Emily Strotman, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Communications Support, The Tester

U.S. Navy photo/Adam Skoczylas.
U.S. Navy photo/Adam Skoczylas.

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (July 10, 2014)—The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) welcomed 35 new graduates June 13 in a ceremony at the River’s Edge Catering and Conference Center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

Class 145, comprising members of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force and service members from Norway, Italy, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom completed the intense 10-month course and graduated as test pilots, test naval flight officers and test engineers.

Keynote speaker Rear Adm. Mark Darrah, commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, told students they should be proud of their achievements, noting that the course is not easy. He also set high expectations for their future during what he called, “an incredibly challenging time.”

“We’re going to expect every one of you to do what is necessary to ensure that your brothers and sisters in arms are able to operate aircraft in combat situations against those who are trying to take them out of the air,” Darrah said. “You need to do it safely and do it effectively because there are people on the ground that count on it.”

Despite challenges, including inclement weather this past winter that forced base closure and the cancellation of flight tests, the students flew more than 3,800 sorties. Class 145 was the first to do an unmanned aerial system developmental testing phase two (DT-2), similar to a thesis project, and is one of few classes in which every student who began the program graduated together.

“Individuals don’t finish this course. Classes finish this course,” Darrah said. “The fact that this group finished this course as a team speaks volumes about the teamwork.”

Top three students

USNTPS then presented diplomas to each of the graduates and conferred awards to three of the top performing students:

Lt. Jeffrey P. Sharp was honored with the Developmental Testing Thesis Award;

Marine Corps Maj. John D. Dirk received the Sid Sherby Award for exemplary leadership; and Swedish Air Force Capt. Marcus Wandt was awarded the Cmdr. Willie McCool Outstanding Student Award.

Master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering

Lt. Bradley Fairfax, Lt. Devin Holmes, Lt. D. Tyler Hurst, Lt. Will Nuse and Lt. Benjamin Scheideman each received their master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering through a cooperative program with the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Engineering test pilot course graduates

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. David Arnold, Marine Corps Maj. David Bachta, Marine Corps Maj. John Dirk, Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 C. Morgan Fruchtnicht, Lt. Travis Hartman, Lt. Mitchell Hays, Lt. Peter Jaglom, Army Capt. Aaron Kia, Air Force Maj. Frederic Lathrop, Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sean Merrill, Royal Singapore Air Force Maj. Ng Swee Hoe, Royal Norwegian Air Force Capt. Lars Nilssen, Lt. Matthew Ostrye, Army Capt. John Plitsch, Lt. John Rashap, Italian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Andrea Scopa, Swedish Air Force Capt. Marcus Wandt and Marine Corps Maj. Robert Wicker.

Engineering test flight officer course graduates

Lt. John Ciccocioppi, Jr., Lt. William Davidson, Lt. Margaret Doyle, Marine Capt. Adam Kassulke, Lt. Jocelyn Liberg, Lt. Paul Lwin and Lt. Jeffrey Sharp.

Test project engineer course graduates

Italian Air Force Capt. Jacopo Covioli, William Harrell, Emanuel Perez, Shay Pontsler and Jacob Rohrer.

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