The Webb Student Center at Old Dominion University was buzzing
a little more than usual October 28th and 29th, as students, and even a few
faculty and staff members, got a chance to test fly the Marine Corps’ very own
F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and F/A-18 Hornet.
The Marine Corps Flight Orientation Program travels to
universities across the across the country to show what the Marine air program
has to offer, connecting experienced Marine pilots with potential applicants
for the program. At each school they
visit, they bring along three high-tech flight simulators to give participants
a chance inside the cockpit. Two of the flight simulators are equipped with
full-motion technology, giving the pilot the sensation of actual flight.
Participants take the controls of the Corps’ current breed
of fighter aircraft, and attempt to land on a runway. While the task may seem
simple, the precision control required to maintain a level approach, steady descent
and appropriate speed proved to be more difficult than many had thought.
However, under the expert tutelage of Marine Corps pilot instructors, several were
able to safely land the simulated version of the Corps’ $100 million fighter.
“These are great, I
would love to get more practice on them,” said Caleb Fogler, a Newport News,
Va. native studying physics.
Officer selection teams are always seeking out those
potential candidates who may be qualified to fly Marine Corps aircraft. For the
Officer Selection Officers who were at the ODU event, the simulators were a big
“This program generated a lot of interest within the
university,” said 1stLt. Christine Calderon, the Officer Selection Officer from
Officer Selection Station Norfolk, and native of Yorktown, Va. “We generated a lot of leads over the two days
for me to follow up on, and I’d call it a huge success.”
Marine Corps pilots undergo the longest and most extensive
training in the Marine Corps, which can last up to two and a half years.
There are three training schools a candidate must attend after Officer
Candidate School and The Basic Course. The first is a six-week basic aviation
course. The Marine officer will then choose which type of aircraft they will
fly, which will determine the length of further schooling for Primary Flight
Training and Advanced Flight Training.