022 – Test Pilot School

No matter how well designed a military aircraft may be, it will always require extensive testing and evaluation to ensure it performs as intended. And even when it does, sometimes unforeseen complications arise—such as when weapons catastrophically collide with the aircraft after release. This too requires extensive testing. But who performs this testing?

Why, test pilots, of course.

Lieutenant Becky “Wrecky” Shaw
Lieutenant Becky “Wrecky” Shaw

On this episode, US Navy Lieutenant Becky “Wrecky” Shaw explains everything you want to know about the Navy Test Pilot School—who the students and faculty are, what the school’s purpose is, when classes take place, where it all happens, why such a school is necessary in the first place, and how it all integrates together to create flight test experts to ensure military aircraft are safe and effective. We also learn why TPS is a common background of so many of the nation’s astronauts, from the original Mercury 7 to today’s space station inhabitants.

During the listener question segment, learn how the cockpit is set up for a CAS mission, what the limit is for a hard landing on an F/A-18, and whether pilots can customize their flight helmets with their callsigns.

Episode photograph courtesy of the USNTPS Commanding Officer. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.