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Aviator Adaptation/ Career Challenges CDR Mark Mittauer.

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Presentation on theme: "Aviator Adaptation/ Career Challenges CDR Mark Mittauer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aviator Adaptation/ Career Challenges CDR Mark Mittauer

2 Enabling Objectives Discuss how aviators are selected Discuss the student aviator training path Discuss stress coping skills used by successful aviation students Discuss signs of poor adaptation to aviation

3 Enabling Objectives (cont.) Discuss interventions for aviation adaptation problems Discuss unique challenges advanced aviation training and operational flying

4 How are Naval Aviator Officers Selected? Aviator Selection Test Battery (ASTB): - measures personality style, motivation for military and aviation, and cognition - minimum score required Flight Physical - no formal questions to assess suitability for aviation (“AA” __ ) Selection Boards for ROTC, USNA, OCS applicants

5 How are Enlisted Aircrew/Air Traffic Controllers Selected? Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) - minimum score needed to enlist in the Navy/Marine Corps You are selected for the aviation rate if there is as position available (quota system )

6 Student Naval Aviator (SNA) Flight Training OCS, USNA, ROTC Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) Ground School Primary Flight Training (16% attrition) Intermediate Flight Training Advanced Flight Training WINGS! Replacement Air Group (RAG)

7 Student Naval Flight Officer (SNFO) Flight Training OCS, USNA, ROTC Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) Basic NFO Training Intermediate NFO Training Advanced NFO Training WINGING!

8 Successful Aviator Needs: Ability Motivation Stability: - PQ - no Axis I diagnosis - AA- no Axis II diagnosis (personality disorder or maladaptive personality traits that adversely impact aircrew coordination, mission execution, or flight safety)

9 Stress Coping Defenses for Student Aviators Flight (withdrawal coping mechanism): - “drop on request” (DOR), - somatization - conversion reaction Fight (aggressive coping mechanism): - denial (I didn’t make a mistake”) - projection (“It was the instructor’s fault”)

10 Stress Coping Mechanisms (cont.) Compromise (healthy coping mechanism): - suppression (of fear of death or of making a mistake) - denial (“I won’t get a down”) - rationalization (“If I get a down, it was the instructor’s fault. I will still get jets!”) - magical thinking (“I won’t get a down”) Compartmentalization - total of above

11 Student Aviator Adaptation Most adapt to flying within 5 flights, or less Goal is to achieve comfort in (and ability to excel in) a multidimensional environment

12 Signs of Poor Adaptation Discomfort flying (fear, severe anxiety) Anticipatory anxiety (before the flight) “Thrill is gone” (does not enjoy flying; prays for rain) “Behind the aircraft” ( slow responses, lack of anticipation, “brain lock”) Impulsive (but incorrect) control inputs

13 Poor Adaptation (cont.) Chronic fatigue (often occurs when the student eschews exercise, socializing, proper nutrition - and despite adequate sleep) Airsickness: - initially physiologic (vestibular response) - performance anxiety component - conditioned response (e.g., fuel smell)

14 Interventions for Poor Adaptation Stress Management Training (e.g., NOMI Psychiatry Department) Self-Paced Airsickness Desensitization (SPAD) - at NOMI Internal Medicine - 80% success rate (after unsuccessful trial of phenergan, ephedrine) Performance Enhancement Program - uses stress management training, relaxation, etc.

15 Proposed Study NEO-PI-R (personality inventory) given to all Student NFOs (and some winged NFOs for comparison) Certain response profile will result in assessment by the Flight Surgeon - and possible referral to NOMI Psychiatry for stress management and evaluation MAY reduce DORs and attrites NOT a “select out” tool

16 Challenges in Advanced Student Training Resuming junior student status - may be difficult for narcissists Solo flights - cause anxiety in dependant students who need excessive reassurance More complex aircraft (e.g., prop to jet) More complex mission (e.g., carrier ops, night and adverse weather, more challenging mission)

17 Challenges in Advanced Training (cont.) Increased responsibility (e.g., aircraft commander, section leader, flight leader, mission commander)

18 Challenges in Operational Flying … and Beyond “Nugget” - the junior aviator in his/her first fleet assignment Collateral duties More frequent deployments - but fewer flight hours Supervisory and leadership challenges “Dissociated tour” - nonflying tour (“fly a desk”)

19 Challenges in Operational Flying (cont.) Military flying vs. civilian airlines (“drive a bus”) Military career vs. family

20 Challenges for the Flight Instructor Constant “caretaker” responsibility Personal problems (e.g., marital strife, career disappointments) Nostalgia for the Fleet Narcissistic students - argue about undesired grades Dependant students - need excessive nurturing

21 Questions? Comments?

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