Naval Air Technical Training Command (Faculty Staff)/NATTC (Faculty Staff) Millington, TN Details
"Naval Air Technical Training Center"
What Naval Aviation organization has a population of nearly 5,000 students - a majority of them in their teens - over 1,000 instructors, 2.5 million square feet of working and living space, 17 new buildings, a highly regarded galley, terrific physical fitness facilities and over 3,100 parking spaces?
Answer: The Naval Air Technical Training Center, situated on 205 flat acres at NAS Pensacola, Florida. Once located in Millington, Tennessee and originally established during WWII, NATTC's mission is to teach Sailors and Marines the necessary skills to maintain and repair Naval Aviation's aircraft, keeping them up and ready, safely and professionally. NATTC also trains a small number of USAF, international military and Army people. All told, 25,000 individuals will matriculate at NATTC in FY 2000.
While Naval Aviation fought the Battle of Midway in June 1942, ground was broken at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base in Millington (near Memphis) for what became a Naval Training Station for Aviation Maintenance. The demand for more training led to expansion and re-designation of the station as NATTC in early 1943.
As aircraft design and technology improved and became more complex, so did the requirement for even more capable technicians. Courses were added to the curriculum which included aircraft structures, engines, ordnance, radar and communications equipment and electronic repair. Air Traffic Control and Aviation Boatswain's Mate training were added a little later. The school grew and became a fixture in Naval Aviation, a stepping stone for enlisted personnel from recruit training to maintenance duty in flying squadrons. The only aviation ratings not trained at NATTC are Aerographer's Mates (AG), Aviation Storekeeper (AK) and Aviation Maintenance Administrationman (AZ).
NATTC was moved from Tennessee to Florida as a result of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) dictates in 1993. Now an attractive, spanking new, college-like campus with a pervasive military ambiance, NATTC has embellished the "Cradle of Naval Aviation" as a master learning center.
Chevalier Hall, on the site of the former Chevalier Field, named after an early Naval Aviation hero, is the centerpiece of NATTC. Called the "Mega Building," it actually consists of administrative offices, classrooms and four huge chambers which were preexisting hangars handsomely "bricked over" to accommodate aircraft, ordnance, engines and a multitude of training devices for realistic, hands-on training.
Personnel arrive from boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois and are organized into small classes which march to and from classrooms and other activities and reside in first-rate berthing spaces within walking (marching) distance of the school, galley, fitness center, athletic fields and gymnasium. A separate medical clinic is also available on campus.
The student Sailors and Marines begin their technical instruction with "A" school which, depending on the rating the individual seeks, may take nine days to eight months. Some will continue on to "C" school before shipping out to the fleet while others may return for "C" school after a sea or shore duty tour. (There are no B schools now.)
Students are taught to function as a team from the get-go while marching to and from classes, while studying, during physical fitness activities or most important, while working on aircraft. Teamwork is stressed as an essential commodity which must carry over to fleet assignments.
NATTC also features a Navy Military Training (NMT) Module designed to provide information to assist the young people in budgeting, Naval heritage, Navy organization and career development. Sailors and Marines gain a foothold on knowledge that helps them while in uniform and in their personal lives.
Realism is key at NATTC. Whether working on a jet engine, hanging a 500-pound bomb on an F/A-18 Hornet or troubleshooting a hydraulic leak on a CH-46 Sea Knight, the training devices are actual aircraft or components of aircraft, such as a landing gear assembly. Accurate facsimiles - not lifesize such as skeletal mock-ups of fuselage and wings configured with electrical and hydraulic devices installed, facilitate understanding of the internal configuration of aircraft. In the case of Air Traffic Controllers, they train in a control tower replica complete with computer generated images of aircraft and vehicular movement across the runways, and computer generated voices of the various aircraft the students 'control.' Shipboard air traffic control training is specially designed for both aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. A replica of the ships control centers including radar, communications and data boards provide realistic training scenarios.
There are four major departments at NATTC: Air Traffic Control, Avionics, Air Training and Mechanical Training. In the first, prospective ACs study their trade utilizing the simulated control towers which can replicate day or night operations and even bad weather. Programmed flight scenarios enable the student to talk to "pilots" through various sequences approaching or departing airfields, or the carrier.
The Avionics Training Center is NATTC's largest and teaches Aviation Electronics Technicians (AT), Aviation Electrician's Mates (AE) and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator (AWs) their trades.
Air Training is the smallest department but trains some of Naval Aviation's most important and visible personnel, the Aviation Boatswain's Mates (AB). Mainstays of the flight and hangar decks of aircraft carriers and of airfields ashore, the ABs have three specialties in which their skills are applied: equipment, fuel and aircraft handling. They become catapult and arresting gear crew members. This department also has the invaluable Aviation Firefighting and Crash and Salvage Training Center where instruction is carried out with intense realism. An aircraft replica can be ignited into flame, which students must fight, at the touch of a button. Sailors learn up close the fearsome dangers of smoke and fire and how to quell the blazes. The Air Training Department also has the Marines' Expeditionary Airfield Equipment Training Division. Here, Marines master the installation, operation and maintenance of EAF components and aircraft recovery equipment in remote or combat areas.
As NATTC Public Affairs Officer Joy White stated in Naval Aviation News, "NATTC's Mechanical Training department is comparable to a medical school for aircraft surgeons but these 'doctors' make house calls on flight decks and airfields around the world." Aviation Machinists Mates (AD) study basic power plants before branching off into courses tailored for helicopter/ turboshaft, turboprop or turbojet type engines. Students in the AviationSupport Equipment Technician School (AS) learn the ins and outs of "yellow gear" - the various support equipment and vehicles instrumental to aircraft operations ashore and afloat. Aviation Ordnancemen (AO) are taught the intricacies and inherent hazards of arming and loading bombs, rockets and missiles, and conduct numerous actual loading evolutions with inert weapons.
In the Life Support Divison several schools focus on lifesaving equipment aboard USN and USMC aircraft. The Aviation Structural Mechanic (AME) and Aircrew Survivial Equipmentman (PR) are responsible for maintaining ejection seats, survival equipment and oxygen systems, among other systems.
Maintenance record keeping is a must so NATTC offers the Naval Aviation Logistics Command Management and Information System (NALCOMIS) course. It teaches personnel how to maintain "yellow sheets," which contain the highly detailed, mechanical history of multi-million dollar flying machines and how to track supplies germane to the support of aircraft and other maintenance/logistics related documents. Students acquire extensive computer skills in this course.
The Aircraft Nondestructive Inspection Technician course stresses the principles and practical applications of several inspection processes inherent in the maintenance support of aircraft.
In the past, the Aviation Structural Mechanics (AM) rating was divided into subspecialties - hydraulics and structures. Those categories are now combined so that students learn both skills. They gain hands-on experience with landing gear, folding wing mechanisms etc. as well as "patching" techniques to repair metallic portions of aircraft that might have sustained enemy fire or mishap damage.
Compelling evidence from those who "run the Navy," the chief petty officers, certifies that NATTC is turning out a viable product. The. Sailors and Marines who move on to fleet duty arrive prepared and motivated. Their training must continue "on the job" as they become acclimated to a particular aircraft in a particular squadron, be it a carrier-based F-14 Tomcat unit, a land-based P-3C Orion squadron or an SH-60 Seahawk detachment operating from a cruiser.
The CPOs, by all accounts, are pleased with the new blood coming out of NATTC.
Copyright Association of Naval Aviation Summer 2000
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