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Aerospace Experimental Psychologist

For the person intrigued with aviation, wanting a bit of adventure, Aerospace Experimental Psychology presents numerous opportunities for new and unique experiences, travel, teamwork and individual development. More importantly, being a Naval Officer with Wings of Gold is a goal achieved by few! As an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist, you will gain an understanding of sea and air power and the problems of sailors and Marines that cannot be appreciated by any other perspective. With one tour, you will learn to use these skills and join that self-selective, achievement-oriented, competitive population of Naval Aviators.

Why be an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist?

Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologists (AEPs) promote and ensure the safe and effective performance of Navy aviation personnel. They provide the Navy with professional and technical guidance and assistance in the planning and conducting of research, development of new systems, and testing evaluation. Their contributions can be defined by four types of activities:

Human Factors Engineering: Through management, research, development, testing, and evaluation AEPs provide the activities required to improve naval air weapon systems' effectiveness through better interaction of personnel and other system components.

Personnel and Training: Through management, research, development and evaluation AEPs provide skilled, properly trained people for the operational aviation environment. They define, design, acquire and evaluate integrated training systems including selection, curriculum development, training devices and simulators, training management and personnel selection.

Operational Support: AEPs provide acquisition management, education, consultation study and analysis to contribute direct support to the operating forces and also serve as a vital link to the research community.

Human Performance: AEPs provide acquisition management, conduct research and develop initiatives to determine the capabilities and limitations of Navy and Marine Corps personnel to operate and maintain the complex airborne weapon systems. Their findings form an essential basis for the development of performance-based design criteria and guidelines.


The responsibilities of a Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologist in today's fast-moving, highly sophisticated operational forces are broad and ever changing. Initiative, attention to detail, foresight, self-assurance, and a well-rounded education are requirements for success in this field. To gain operational experience, Aerospace Experimental Psychologists are required to log flight hours monthly in order to understand more readily the stresses placed on aircrew in accomplishing their mission.


The Navy’s Aerospace Experimental Psychologists training course is six months in duration. Classes convene three times a year (December, August and October) at the Naval Aerospace and Operational Medical Institute (NAMI) at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The curriculum is divided into three major phases. Twelve weeks of the course are spent in the classrooms and Operational Psychology unit at NAMI. Instruction in environmental physiology exposes the students to the physical stresses associated with flying. Operational medicine courses cover topics that are pertinent to not only aviation but to other military medical assignments, so that the Aerospace Experimental Psychologist gains an understanding of the broad mission of the Navy Medical Department. Seven of these 12 weeks are dedicated to familiarization with Aerospace Experimental Psychology specific topics such as Human Factors Engineering and Performance. This training equips the student with the additional skills and experience to contribute effectively as an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist. Additionally, the students are provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their newly acquired skills through an applied practicum. At Naval Aviation Schools Command seven weeks are dedicated to Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. This phase includes instruction in aircraft engines and systems, flight rules and regulations, meteorology, aerodynamics, navigation, aviation physiology and both water and land survival. The flight phase of the course is actual flight instruction at the Aviation Training Command Wing located at Whiting Field, Milton, Florida. Training is conducted in the fixed-wing Beech craft T-34C (Turbo Mentor), and in the Bell TH-57 (Jet Ranger) helicopter. The purpose of flight training is to expose the student Aerospace Experimental Psychologist to the hazards and stressors of flight from the perspective of the aircrew.

Operational Readiness

The Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologist Course entails six months of instruction designed to prepare the aeromedical professional with the skills and knowledge to support operational aviation requirements. A graduate of this program is expected to practice his/her aeromedical specialty in a training, research and/or operational setting for the purpose of ensuring combat readiness.


Each phase of the Aerospace Experimental Psychologists' training provides knowledge and experience which assures their credibility in the aviation environment. This experience provides the background to establish rapport and be effective in a training or research environment and operational settings.


All assignments are made according to the needs of the Navy and the Aerospace Experimental Psychology Program, personal training requirements, qualifications and expertise level, and personal interests. Currently, there are approximately twenty eight Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologists filling billets throughout the United States.

Physical Fitness Requirements

Due to the small number of personnel in this career field, entrance into the program is highly competitive. Program candidates are sought from those who possess a doctoral degree in psychology with emphasis in experimental, engineering, cognitive, human factors, industrial/organizational, or physiological psychology; or who have completed all the degree requirements before appointment into the Navy. Appointees must agree to remain on active duty in the Naval Reserve for three years. Total service obligation is eight years of active and inactive duty. Extension of active duty periods may be requested. Officers interested in a Navy career may also request transfer into the Regular Navy. The Aerospace Experimental Psychologist Program necessitates good physical conditioning, especially in order to accomplish land and water survival requirements. Swimming ability should exceed basic staying afloat skills. For those individuals whose swimming skills are weak, prior training should be considered. Waivers for lack of water survival skills are not approved. The applicant must be in good overall health with a benign medical history. All organ systems must be normal and not compromised by the flight environment. Must be comfortable in the flight envelope where first-hand appreciation of the stresses of flight will be required. Eyesight correctable to 20/20 in both eyes. Color vision/depth perception must be normal.

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