We see the pilots training in our skies, but the pilots who are trained are only a fraction of the students at Naval Air Station Meridian.
The Naval Technical Training Center is also located at NAS. The purpose of this school is to prepare students for operational readiness as part of the fleet and work on a Navy carrier, destroyer or other ship.
The students are taught entry-level skills that will continue once they begin their tour of duty. More than 3,000 Navy students will attend school at NAS Meridian this year.
"The Navy calls it an 'A School' which is an apprentice school," said Christopher Bownds, NTTC commanding officer. "It's where we take the sailors right out of boot camp and teach them the skill that they need to do their job in the Navy."
Also at NAS Meridian is Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron 1. Its goal is to send Marines to the fleet who are technically proficient and ready to face challenges in an operational setting. This year, over 800 Marines will receive training at NAS Meridian.
The Regional CounterDrug Training Academy is also at NAS Meridian. RCTA, provides training to civilian law enforcement officers to prepare them to safely and effectively investigate illegal drug activity and make arrests.
"We are learning how to safely, where I work, we have been taking down labs for a long time, but we haven't had the training," said Jerry Covington of the Winston County Sheriff's Department. "We've probably done some things we shouldn't have done in the past, so we're trying to learn to do it the right way."
Over 9,000 law enforcement officers have already been through the program this year alone. Since opening 1992, over 60,000 officers have been trained at RCTA.
NAS Meridian was commissioned in 1961. It's now one of only two intermediate pilot training bases in the nation.