Three-quarters of our rear admirals in naval aviation come from backgrounds in attack carrier aviation, yet only 36% of aviator commanders and captains are associated with this specialty.
How has this pattern developed? What lessons are there for today’s young aviation officer? The answers are complex, and the study of what has happened does not always provide clear clues to what will happen.
Approximately half of the unrestricted line officers in the Navy are specialized in aviation. Until the late 1950s, virtually all were pilots, but the changing technology of air warfare brought into being a second major category, the Naval Flight Officer. Very small numbers of non-pilot flying officers have been in naval aviation for more than 50 years, but it has been only about ten years since these officers became a large and identifiable community.