The "Eagles" of Training Squadron Seven (VT-7) have the mission of safely and effectively training the world's finest Naval Aviators and preparing them for service and success in the Fleet.
Student Naval Aviators train for approximately twelve months in the fundamentals of strike aviation. Initial flights and simulators are devoted to Instrument Flight Rules, culminating in an instrument rating. In the Familiarization stage, students learn basic aircraft maneuvering, aerobatics, and landing skills foundational to the aircraft carrier environment. Numerous multi-aircraft flights provide requisite skills in two-plane, four-plane, and night formation flying. The second phase of flight training exposes students to manual air-to-ground bombing, Tactical Formation, Air Combat Maneuvering, and Operational Navigation at low altitude. Finally, students perform Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) in preparation for their Carrier Qualifications (CQ). In order to become "tailhookers" and earn their Wings of Gold, students must safely complete four touch-and-go’s and ten arrested landings aboard a carrier at sea.
VT-7 originated as a Naval Advanced Training Activity located at Naval Air Station Memphis, Tennessee. It was initially composed of two advanced training units. These were consolidated into Basic Training Group SEVEN, which employed the T-28 “Trojan” and T-29 “Seastar” to train student aviators in basic instrument flying. BTG-7 was designated as VT-7 in July, 1960, and relocated to NAS Meridian, Mississippi, one year later. VT-7 then split to form a “sister” squadron, Training Squadron NINE (VT-9) in December, 1961. In 1964, VT-7 won its first of twenty Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety "S" Awards. A superior safety record and an aggressively professional approach to safeguarding lives and aircraft enabled the Command to again receive the CNO Safety Award in 2009.
The T-2 "Buckeye" was used in VT-7 from 1962 until 1971. The Command then transitioned to the Douglas TA-4J “Skyhawk” to train pilots for advanced strike missions. The first advanced strike student earned his Wings of Gold in the spring of 1972. The last Naval Aviator trained by VT-7 in the TA-4J graduated in 1999 when VT-7 transitioned to the Boeing T-45C "Goshawk." In its first year of Goshawk service, VT-7 flew over 18,000 sorties and made nearly 1,300 carrier landings. From March 2013 to June 2014, the Squadron flew more than 20,000 hours and winged 83 students trained by a staff of 45 Active Duty and 23 Reserve Instructor pilots. To date, the “Eagles” of VT-7 have winged more than 4,100 Naval and Marine Corps Aviators including 338 International Students from France, Italy, Kuwait, Spain, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, and Brazil.
VT-7's Eagles are dedicated to their mission of training Student Naval Aviators, and will continue providing the fleet with the finest Naval Aviators in the world.