A 2017 Bishop Blanchet High School graduate and Kirkland native is serving at the Navy’s largest aviation training center.
Airman Charles Heitz serves with the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida.
Undesignated airmen have the opportunity to be assigned to different types of job fields until they choose their final job.
Heitz credits success in the Navy with lessons learned growing up in Kirkland.
“I learned how to work with people and get along with others,” Heitz said in a press release.
NAS Pensacola, “The Cradle of Naval Aviation,” is best known as the initial primary training base for all U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers pursuing designations as Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers.
Once these service members finish training they are deployed around the world putting their skill set to work flying jets from aircraft carriers, submarine-hunting helicopters, serving as aircrew operating sophisticated radar and weapons systems, electronic warfare and more. Operating on land, air, or sea, they represent the best of operational and training support.
Pensacola is home to the world-renowned Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron and boast an overall workforce of 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel.
“As sailors forged by the sea, we will continue to be the Navy the nation needs,” Capt. Maxine Goodridge, Commanding Officer Naval Air Technical Training Center, said in a press release. “Providing high velocity learning at every level is what we do best.”
Planes cannot fly without the highest quality and best-trained aircraft technicians to support naval operations around the world. NATTC provides four major departments; Air Traffic Control, Avionics, Air Training and Mechanical Training for nearly all enlisted aircraft maintenance and enlisted aircrew specialties. NATTC is turning out a viable product. Sailors and Marines who move on to fleet duty arrive prepared and motivated. Their training must continue “on the job” as they become acclimated to a particular aircraft in a particular squadron, be it a carrier-based F-18 Hornet unit, a land-based P-3C Orion squadron or an SH-60 Seahawk detachment operating from a cruiser.
NATTC was commissioned in 1943 and today, the training center is 5,300 strong including students, instructors and support personnel.
The largest part of the student body is comprised of sailors attending their first technical training schools where they learn knowledge and skills required to perform as technicians at the third class petty officer level, similar to a civilian apprentice. Advanced technical schools provide higher-level technical knowledge for senior petty officers, who serve as front-line supervisors, and in similar roles as civilian journeyman. NATTC also conducts technical training for Naval officers, who supervise enlisted personnel.
Heitz has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My grandfather was in Vietnam, and my grandmother was an Army nurse,” Heitz said in a press release.
More than 15,000 Navy and Marine Corps students graduate from NATTC each year illustrating how their existing programs fit into their philosophy of completing the mission with well-trained, well-led and motivated personnel, according to Navy officials.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Heitz 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 being a part of something bigger than myself and doing something great in my life,” Heitz said in a press release.