Merritt Island Native Lt. Chris Riley Trains the Next Generation U.S. Naval Aviation Warfighters
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Finley // June 11, 2019
Lt. Chris Reilly is an instructor pilot with the 'Golden Eagles' of Training Squadron (VT) 22
KINGSVILLE, TEXAS – A 2002 Merritt Island Christian School graduate and Merritt Island, Florida, native is playing a key role in the lengthy and rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.
Lt. Chris Reilly is an instructor pilot with the “Golden Eagles” of Training Squadron (VT) 22, based in Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies the T-45C Goshawk aircraft.
A Navy instructor pilot is responsible for teaching student naval aviators intermediate and advance flight training.
“I love flying and I love instilling that passion in the students and giving back what I have learned through the years,” Reilly said.
Reilly credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Merritt Island.
“From playing sports in high school, I learned teamwork, perseverance and to never give up,” Reilly said.
“Every day you are faced with challenges and these lessons translate very well to the Navy.”
The T-45C Goshawk is a tandem-seat, jet trainer aircraft powered by a twin-spool non-afterburn turbofan engine with 5,527 pounds of thrust and airspeed of 645 mph.
VT-22’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete many phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”
After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack jet aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans.
More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast, and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
Reilly plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer.
“Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Reilly is most proud of being named the instructor of the month on two separate occasions.
“This accomplishment shows the instruction I proved is effective enough to be recognized by the students and leadership alike,” Reilly said.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Reilly, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Reilly is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My father, uncle and grandfather were all Navy pilots,” Reilly said. “It means everything for me to follow in their footsteps and serve my country.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Reilly and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Being part of this team every day makes me better,” Reilly said.
“I love to fly, so providing this service to my country and my shipmates is something I enjoy doing.”
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