Canton-Galva Grad Strives to be “Top Gun”

A 2012 Canton-Galva graduate and Galva, Kansas, native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.

Ensign Alyson Bressie-Donelson is a student pilot serving with Training Air Wing 4 at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. Training Air Wing 4 oversees primary flight training in T-6B Texan II aircraft and advanced multi-engine flight training in T-44C Pegasus aircraft at four squadrons on the base.

Currently, Training Air Wing 4 produces approximately 600 newly qualified aviators each year.

A Navy student pilot is responsible for using the information given to fly safely.

“Being a student pilot is special because not everyone who wants to do it gets chosen to do so,” said Bressie-Donelson. “A lot of famous people came through this training before me, and I’m proud to carry on their legacy. As a woman, I don’t feel different. The number of women in the pilot program is growing, because we are as capable as anyone.”

Bressie-Donelson credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Galva.

“My parents taught me the value of hard work and perseverance,” Bressie-Donelson said. “It has gotten me to where I am today.”

There are more than 40 tenant commands and activities located on NAS Corpus Christi. The Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA), headquartered here, oversees the training operation throughout the Southeast Region, from Texas to Florida. Under CNATRA’s command are five training air wings, 17 training squadrons, more than 14,000 Navy and civilian personnel, the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, the Naval Aviation Schools Command and the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

The air training program is approximately 18 months long and focuses on the increased complexity of today’s aircraft. Students must complete multiple phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation preflight indoctrination, primary flight training, and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”

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.

Bressie-Donelson 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, Bressie-Donelson is most proud of her officer commissioning and reaching flight school.

“Both required a lot of hard work” Bressie-Donelson said. “It makes me feel like I’m part of the aviation community.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Bressie-Donelson, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Bressie-Donelson is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My grandfather served in the Navy,” Bressie-Donelson said. “Although he did not talk about his Navy career much, his character and the person he was, influenced me.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Bressie-Donelson and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I’m proud of being part of a team and doing my part to protect the United States and freedoms that we have,” Bressie-Donelson said.

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Finley