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Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist (NOBC 0849)

The purpose of this program is to train selected Medical Service Corps (MSC) officers in a course of instruction leading to designation as a Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist. This is a warfare designation, with successful officers receiving gold MSC wings. The Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist training program is designed to develop the skills and self-confidence essential for optimal support of the Naval Aerospace & Operational Physiology (NAOP) Program. It fosters development of a strong and positive identification with the collective personality, lifestyle, and professionalism of Naval Aviation. It includes educational training in hypobaric chamber operations, aeromedical aspects of flight, sensory physiology, aviation life support systems, acceleration physiology, emergency egress, water survival, aircraft mishap procedures. Students must demonstrate aeronautical adaptability by successful completion, within given time constraints, of the prescribed curriculum of the Primary Flight Training at NAS Whiting Field, Florida. The course runs concurrently with the Student Flight Surgeon Course taught at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Courses normally convene in May, July, and September and runs for approximately seven months.


  • Applicants must have either a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Physiology (e.g. cardiovascular, pulmonary, neuro, exercise or occupational). Applicants with related degrees (biology, biomedical engineering, kinesiology, zoology or other biological based sciences) will be considered if they have completed the following courses: Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, college mathematics (algebra, pre-calculus or above), Statistics, Biology/Physiology. Applicants with significant military aviation experience who have completed a Bachelor's Degree with appropriate science background may be considered. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale in each of their degrees. Experience as an instructor/teacher, is highly desirable.
  • A short presentation on the Naval Aerospace & Operational Physiology (NAOP) Program and an interview with two NAOPs based at Naval Air Station Pensacola is mandatory.
  • Strong personal endorsements in the areas of initiative, teamwork and leadership are highly desirable.
  • All applicants must be in excellent physical condition, physically qualified for U. S. Navy flight duties and able to pass a Navy Class 3 swim test.
  • Some age restrictions apply.

Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist Recruiting Brochure 

Applicants for Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist training come from three major sources; direct procurement (civilian), transfer/redesignation (inter/intraservice transfers), and NROTC. Enlisted personnel and all reserve military personnel applying for this program must go through Navy Recruiting Command in the same manner as direct procurements. Active duty officers desiring to go through the transfer redesignation board process can contact the MSC community manager at PERS-211M3 or the aerospace physiology Specialty Leader for application procedures. Usually two transfer redesignation boards convene each year, normally in April and October.


The Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist training course is 7 months long. Classes convene 3 times per year at the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center, located on beautiful NAS Pensacola, Florida. During the initial phase, you will spend 6 weeks in Aviation Preflight Training (API) at Naval Aviation Schools Command, also located on board NAS Pensacola. Following successful completion, you will move to NAS Whiting Field (in Milton, FL, approximately one hour away from NAS Pensacola) for 8 weeks of flight training. The final phase is academic in nature and lasts for 9 weeks.

Phase I Training: NITC

Navy Instructor Training Course (NITC): A-012-0077: NITC provides students the opportunity to develop the entry-level instructor skills necessary to perform their instructional responsibilities effectively in any Navy training situation. This is a three-week course (15 instructional days) that teaches basic instructor skills, instructor role modeling, and student teach-back opportunities, all of which are critical in building students' skills and confidence. This course is designed to train Navy, Marine Corps, DoD personnel and allied foreign nationals in the application of principles of learning; instructional methods, strategies, and techniques; effective communications, oral questioning, and presentation techniques appropriate to Navy learning environments. A progressive series of performance activities allows students to demonstrate proficiency in the required knowledge, skills, and abilities of an entry-level instructor. NITC benefits instructors because the training includes an extensive range of methods that support lifelong learning and continual development. NITC will be taught at the CPPD Learning Site in Pensacola, Fla.

Phase II Training: API

Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) < Caution- > : The second phase of this course is a six-week flight orientation and ground school at the Naval Aviation Schools Command. A prerequisite to flight training, this segment consists of 177.5 hours of academic and survival instruction condensed into 40 days of training. Basic ground school topics include aircraft engine systems, flight rules and regulations, meteorology, aerodynamics, navigation, aircrew coordination, and fitness. Aviation physiology, land survival, and water survival training is also included at the Naval Survival Training Institute's Aviation Survival Training Center. This phase of instruction is conducted side by side Navy and Marine Corps aviator students. This section is challenging to students both physically and mentally. Physical Fitness Requirements: Training demands good physical conditioning in order to meet the water survival and aviation physiology requirements. Swimming ability should exceed basic staying afloat skills. For those individuals whose swimming skills are weak, prior training should be considered.

Phase III Training: Flight School

The third phase of instruction is a ten-week flight indoctrination syllabus with Training Wing FIVE at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Florida. Training is conducted in the fixed-wing Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and the Bell Jet Ranger TH-57 helicopter. The mission of the Aerospace Medicine Specialist (AMS) Training Curriculum is to provide exposure to the various flight regimes and associated phenomenon of aeromedical concern. Each module of the instruction provides an introduction to the basic flight experiences encountered in daily training and fleet aircraft operations. Particular emphasis is placed on basic motor flight skills and familiarization with the physiological stressors associated with aviation specific evolutions. The primary goal of flight training is to expose the student Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist to the hazards and stressors of flight from the perspective of the aircrewman. Each phase of the Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist training satisfies a need for knowledge and experience which assures his or her credibility in the line aviation community. It provides the background necessary to provide essential aeromedical insight into aviation safety and to establish good rapport with squadron personnel, thereby, increasing the effectiveness of the Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist in his or her assignment.

Phase IV Training: Academics

As part of the integrated Aeromedical Officer training program, Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologists attend academic classes along with their Medical Corps colleagues. Over 100 hours of didactic and 30 hours of computer based training is done with physicians, psychologists and optometrists.
The following describes the units of instruction specific to naval aerospace physiology that is covered during this phase of training:
  • Unit 1: Environmental Physiology: Presents the student with a spectrum of physiological problems encountered in the hostile aviation environment. Topics covered include atmospheric physics, physiological effects of altitude, biodynamics of acceleration, disorientation, visual illusions of flight, and motion sickness.
  • Unit 2: Naval Aviation Medicine: Introduces the student to aviation-specific medicine by department organization, physical standards, physical exams and waivers, pilot selection, special operational medicine problems such as night vision devices and lasers, and an extensive discussion of aviation safety programs, mishap investigation, and aviation pathology.
  • Unit 3: Advanced Topics in Physiology: An in-depth review of basic human physiology. The orientation toward general physiology, and most of it should be a review of what the Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist studied at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If the student does not have a strong background, then this unit will expose the student to what is considered the basic, "entry level" physiology that will serve as a basis for further professional development. This unit may be conducted as an independent study.
  • Unit 4: Naval Aviation Survival Training Program (NASTP): Provides an introductory overview of the NASTP - the central core of the Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist specialty. Topics include Naval Aviation Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) requirements for training, an overview of the numerous curricula that make up the NASTP, administration of the NASTP, program inspection procedures and a discussion of the US Naval aircraft inventory, with an emphasis on training considerations.
  • Unit 5: Administration and Professional Development: Provides the student with background information and an introduction to the duties and responsibilities that can be expected during their first tour of duty. Topics include Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiology Program (NAPP) organization, USN and USMC aviation organization, Division Officer duties, the role of the Mentor, FITREPS and EVALS, Service Records and Promotion Boards, and Board Certification.
  • Unit 6: Survival Training Lecture Preparation Materials: Presents the basic subject matter knowledge required to teach classes within the realm of the Naval Aviation Survival Training Program. The first portion of this unit reviews some of the information presented in Units 1-3, but with an orientation towards classroom presentation of the material to aircrew. In addition to topics in aerospace physiology, a lengthy discussion of aircraft egress (ejection) systems and Aviation Life Support Systems (ALSS) will be presented. The material presented in this Unit will serve as the basis for the lectures prepared in conjunction with Unit 6, and will also serve as the basis for all instructor qualifications that will be completed during the students' first tour.
Upon graduation, you will attend a BUMED approved preceptorship program. This is designed to be completed by end of first tour. Fellowship/Associate Fellowship status and board certification is available in aerospace physiology by Aerospace Medical Association. All officers are aeronautically designated and are on flight status. Heavy operational emphasis with 56% of billets attached to line commands, i.e. "1 of 1" FITREPS signed by USN/USMC line commanders are common. Strong career progression track that can result in multiple Operational are RDT&E tours to meet experience prerequisites.

Accession Schedule of Duty Stations

  • Officer Development School, Newport, RI-5 weeks
  • Aerospace Physiologist Training, Pensacola, FL -7 Months (MAY, JUL, SEPT starts)
  • Preceptorship (first tour, 12-14 months) @ one of the following sites:
    • Patuxent River, MD 
    • Norfolk, VA 
    • Cherry Point, NC
    • Jacksonville, FL
    • Pensacola, FL 
    • San Diego, CA
    • Lemoore, CA 
    • Whidbey Island, WA

Accession Process

The Naval Aerospace & Operational Physiology Program Recruiting Page 
Interested in applying to become an Aerospace and Operational Physiologist, contact the Specialty Leader 

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