“You can be the best pilot in the world, but it’s the team that’s backing you that is going to make the mission work.” -Lt. Charles “No Fomo” Jones
The mission. For these aviation students, it all starts here at Naval Air Station Meridian.
“They are a blank slate. I love that they have a passion to learn this skill, and they don’t just want to know how to do it at the minimum, they want to learn how to be the best at their trade,” said Instructor Pilot Lt. Charles Jones.
Students begin with academics, then flights with their instructors, and, eventually, solo flights. Each flight can last anywhere from one to two hours.
“So here we’re not just focused on building pilots, we’re focused on encouraging leaders as well as aviators,” said Lt. Jones.
With focusing on this mission, comes focusing, on excellence.
“I love the challenge of going to each unique individual and saying, ‘what is it that makes you tick?’” said Lt. Jones. How is it that I can get into your life and into your mind and get you to understand these crucial lessons that you will need?’ And knowing that their life and the lives of the people they’re defending may depend on their excellence.”
He says it’s not just about the mission at hand, but all the missions to come.
“I want you here, the nation needs you here, and my goal is for you to succeed. So, what is it that we need to do and what is it that I need to say that’s going to give you the best opportunity to succeed at today’s mission today and to get you ready for the missions that are coming in the years to come?
You may be called upon to do very hard things, but you are doing them because the nation needs you. It’s not personal, it’s professional. Do your best and do so with your team and love your life while you’re doing it.”
Lieutenant Jones earned his wings right here at NAS Meridian in 2012. After receiving their wings, pilots are required to do a tour and then be an instructor pilot. Lt. Jones says he's not
sure yet which direction he will take once he's finished teaching here at NAS Meridian next year.