submitted photo The Journal
Ensign Michael Johnson is a student pilot with the “Rangers” of Training Squadron (VT) 28.

Next generation of U.S. Naval Aviation Warfighters
By Lt. Paula Knight
Navy Office of Community Outreach
A 2014 Boylan graduate and Rockford, native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.
Ensign Michael Johnson is a student pilot with the “Rangers” of Training Squadron (VT) 28, based in Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Tex. The squadron flies the T-6B Texan II aircraft.
A Navy student pilot is responsible for learning how to fly naval aircraft both effectively and efficiently to execute missions for the fleet.
“I love the speed and maneuverability of the T-6B,” Johnson said. “It’s an exhilarating feeling pushing yourself to the limits.”
Johnson credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Rockford.
“I learned the love of flying from being taught how to fly planes at Poplar Grove Airport by my flight instructor,” Johnson said.
The T-6B Texan II 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 320 mph.
VT-28’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 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.
Johnson 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, Johnson is most proud of graduating from Iowa State University ROTC and receiving his commission becoming a naval officer.
“It was a major stepping stone to get me where I am today, a pilot in aviation flight school,” Johnson said.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Johnson, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Johnson is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My grandfather served in the Army and I enjoy being able to bond with him over common experiences,” Johnson said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Johnson and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I enjoy being able to help people through humanitarian aid the Navy provides,” Johnson added.*

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