As part of his requirements for his education plan, Neil Armstrong needed to serve time in the Navy. On January 26th, 1949, he reported to the Naval Air Station located in Pensacola for his flight training. This duty would last for about 18 months, where he later became qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright. In this article, you will encounter facts regarding Armstrong’s life in the Navy and as a test pilot.
Good news came on August 12th, 1950 for Neil Armstrong, when he was given the word that he had become fully qualified as a Naval Aviator. For his first assignment, he was attached to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego , a post that is now called NAS North Island. After two months had passed, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), which consisted of all jets. A jet would become the first aircraft that Armstrong would take to his first flight in. It was called a F9F-2B Panther. His first flight took place on January 5th, 1951.
Additional facts concerning the naval career of Neil Armstrong includes:
1) Six months after Neil Armstrong experienced his first flight, he accomplished his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex. During the same time period, he was given a promotion. He was moved up to ensign from midshipman.
2) When the USS Essex set sail with a VF-51 on board, Armstrong was present as the ship made its way to Korea with an intent to supply the Navy with a ground-attack aircraft. At this time, Armstrong would make more than 600 flights inside a collection of aircraft.
3) On August 29th, 1951, the Korean War brought the first time Armstrong was involved in any ‘action.’ At the time, he was an escort for a photo reconnaissance plane (which was armed) that flew over Songiin. The aim of this mission was to keep an eye on freight yards and a bridge situated on a valley road located close to a village. During this time, he was shot down while engaging in a low bombing run. This would mark the first and only time he would encounter this sort of experience. His plane was hit by anti-aircraft gunfire, forcing his aircraft to nosedive in a string of cable attached to the valley.
Armstrong was also a test pilot in his younger days. Upon graduation from Purdue, he showed interest in becoming an experimental, research test pilot. He submitted an application at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base. At the time, no positions were available for him, so his request was forwarded to the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. In February of 1955, he started working at Lewis Field.
In the next article, you will learn about an interesting flight assignment that nearly threatened Neil Armstrong’s life. How did he manage to survive and what was he doing at the time?