By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Finley

KINGSVILLE, Texas – A 2012 Leonardtown High School graduate and California, Maryland, native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators. 

Ensign Cade Warlick is a student pilot with the “Redhawks” of Training Squadron (VT) 21, based in Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies T-45C Goshawk aircraft.

A Navy student pilot is responsible for mastering the aircraft systems of naval aircraft to be an effective warfighter in the fleet.

“It’s crazy how much they let us do in these airplanes,” Warlick said. “Aerobatics and flying solo has to be the biggiest highlight, but also being in the tailhook community and getting to go to an aircraft carrier is special too.”

Warlick credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Calfornia.

“I grew up in a military town and some of my closest friends are sons and daughters of my dad’s military colleagues,’ Warlick said. “Being exposed to diverse military backgrounds helped me see different leadership traits that I took with me into my naval career and it’s definitely setting me up for success.”

The T-45C Goshawk is a tandem-seat, jet trainer aircraft powered by a twin-spool non-afterburn turbofan engine with 5,527 pounds of thrust and airspeed of 645 mph.

VT-21’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete many phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training, and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”

After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack jet aircraft or the F-35 Lightning joint strike fighter jet. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.

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.

Warlick 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, Warlick is most proud of graduating from the Naval Academy.

“It was a long road in gaining admission but I’m extremely blessed to have attended the academy and receive a commission into the Navy as an aviator,” Warlick said.

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

“My dad was a P3 pilot in the Navy and now I’m following in his footsteps,” Warlick said. “I grew up a military brat, so going to airshows and learning from my dad about aviation at a young age, really influenced me to become a naval aviator like him. When I get my wings, it will be the utmost honor as I’ll be getting the same wings that he got when he graduated flight school.”

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

“Serving in the Navy means everything to me because I have dreamt about this since I was little, and it’s a huge blessing to be able to fight for this great country,” Warlick said.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...