O’Fallon native trains to become a U.S. military pilot

2nd Lt. Jacob Slaughter

2nd Lt. Jacob Slaughter

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – A 2011 O’Fallon Township High School graduate and O’Fallon, Ill. native is playing a key role in the lengthy and rigorous training process that transforms new officers into military aviators.

2nd Lt. Jacob Slaughter is a Marine Student Pilot with the “Rangers” Navy Training Squadron (VT-27), based in Corpus, Christi, Texas, that operates the T-6B Texan II aircraft. As a Student Pilot, Slaughter is responsible for learning everything about the aircraft and the rules and procedures of flying in the local area, while maintaining peak physical condition to perform these duties.

“Being a pilot, I enjoy working with like-minded individuals who are looking for a challenge,” said Slaughter.

The T-6B Texan is a training aircraft that is powered by a 1,100 shaft horsepower, free-turbine, turboprop single-engine, four-bladed propeller, with a cruising speed of 310 mph.

VT-27’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 four 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 strike fighter jet, the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.

Many of these pilots will fly aircraft which take off from and land aboard aircraft carriers and other aviation and air-capable ships, a unique capability which allows Naval Air Forces to operate integrally with surface forces anywhere on the world’s oceans.  Recently, Navy strike aircraft operating from aircraft carriers sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and from Middle East waters have launched hundreds of missions against terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria.

As a member of one of the military’s squadrons with the newest aircraft platforms, Slaughter said he and other VT-27 pilots are proud to be part of a war-fighting team that readily defends America at all times.

“Everybody at this command works well together,” said Slaughter. “We also work hard to accomplish the mission and have fun doing it.”

Jobs are highly varied at VT-27, according to Navy officials. Approximately 60 men and women officers and 15 civilian employees, make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from training the new aviators, maintaining airframes and engines, processing paperwork, along with handling and flying the aircraft.

“What the men and women of this squadron accomplish every day is nothing short of miraculous,” explained Cmdr. Corbett Dixon, Commanding Officer of VT-27.  “The students are in the process of moving from just another college graduate in society, to someone who sacrifices their own time and effort for society. That’s what it means to serve in the Navy. That’s what they’re learning as they learn to fly. And the staff here, the instructor pilots and civilians, put in an amazing amount of effort day in and day out, to ensure that we send the best young men and women forward to serve our nation, with all the skills, dedication and integrity necessary to serve successfully.”

Serving in the military, Slaughter is learning about being a more responsible leader, Marine and person through handling numerous responsibilities.

“I have learned the value of hard work and pushing yourself everyday to be better,” said Slaughter. “Always finding your weaknesses and improving upon them.