LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – When it comes to being a test pilot, there are four skill levels based on the risk of the flight test performed. If you acquire these skills, you just might find your place in history.
This summer the Naval Test Wing Atlantic (NTWL) designated AVIAN’s Eric Flagg as an MQ-8B Fire Scout Category (CAT) C Air Vehicle Operator.
Flight test designations are categorized as A, B, C or D, with CAT D being the most risky. CAT C and D flight test ratings are reserved for aviators who are qualified to assess high risk factors during flight testing.
While many who are qualified at these levels attended a test pilot school, a select few are non-test pilot school graduates who earned their designations by demonstrating decision making, technical aptitude and professionalism in the field.
“In NAVAIR’s 75 years, you could probably count on one hand the number of times an individual has been granted a CAT C rating who was not a graduate from TPS [Test Pilot School],” said Kevin Switick, president and an owner of AVIAN. “Eric has proven to have the intellectual trust needed to do the right stuff and made history along the way.”
Flagg has been with AVIAN for three years and supports the NTWL Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate at NAS Webster Field Annex, St. Inigoes, Maryland. A current Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Flagg did not graduate from the United States Naval Test Pilot School, but has more than 19 years in the military. He has over 2200 combined flight hours with the MH-53E, HH-1N, SW-4 Metro-liner, various training aircraft, the TigerShark UAS as a Mission Commander and MQ-8B Fire Scout UAS as an Air Vehicle Operator.
“The Cat C designation is the result of time and energy that others on our AVIAN team with a TPS background invested in me, and is not an accomplishment that I could have done by myself,” Flagg said. “The credit is shared. Our unmanned systems team works very well and this accomplishment is proof that we are stronger together.”