May 21, 2024

Annual Naval Test Wing Atlantic awards highlight top performers

The Commander, Naval Test Wing Atlantic recently presented awards to the Test Pilot of the Year, Flight Test Engineer of the Year, Test Naval Flight Officer of the Year and U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Instructor of the year for 2010. The recipients were honored during a luncheon ceremony at the River’s Edge Conference Center at NAS Patuxent River.

This year’s Test Pilot of the Year, Lt. Kimberly J. Riggle, said she was inspired to become a test pilot when she was attending a class at the University of Michigan. “Our guest speaker for that week was an Air Force flight test engineer, Capt. Stagg. When she described what she did, it sounded very interesting and a job I would enjoy,” explained Riggle, who is assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two One (HX-21).

At the time, Riggle said she was not contemplating a military career. Later, she attended a “Women in Engineering” conference, where a presentation on aviation given by a Marine sparked her interest.

“I decided that this sounded more interesting than an engineering desk job, so I joined the Navy,” she said. “I felt that I was well suited to the blend of engineering and aviation inherent in the test pilot job and that I would enjoy it; and I definitely do.”

“The most rewarding aspect about being a test pilot is the knowledge that you helped to ensure that the fleet gets a safer and better product,” Riggle added.

This year’s Flight Engineer of the Year, Greg Eggleston, serves as Propulsion & Mechanical Systems Team Lead for the P-8A Poseidon Integrated Test Team, leading a team of 5 engineers to plan & execute multiple P-8A subsystem tests, including fuel, auxiliary fuel, electrical, onboard oxygen & maintenance systems as well as human factors.

Eggleston said his inspiration to become a test engineer also came in college when he was working as a co-op employee with GE Power Systems.

“I worked in a test facility for steam turbines,” he said. “I found the test environment to be exciting, challenging, and very addictive.”

According to Eggleston, the most exciting aspect of his job is the actual test execution, but added, “However, I truly enjoy the environment of working with other engineers, test pilots, and fleet aircrew to develop a better product for the USN and USMC.”

Eggleston said he knew he wasted be an engineer as far back as high school. “I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but didn’t have an exact idea of what kind,” he said. “Through my school I got on a project with NASA Langley where a team of students designed, built, and launched our own high power rocket. My mentor on that team was Dr. Dianne DeTurris. She introduced me to the world of being a test engineer.”

Lt. Roger A. Davis, who is assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Zero, was selected as the Test Naval flight Officer of the year. Davis said he became a test NFO because of his love of aircraft and engineering. “I studied engineering at Texas A&M, where I enjoyed learning and applying the science and methodology behind engineering, specifically in regards to aircraft and engines.

“While in college, I was inspired by stories of the great military Test Pilots in US history, and aspired to attend US Naval Test Pilot School, and become a test NFO myself,” said Davis, who said his former VQ-3 department heads Lt. Cdr. Bob Strahm (U.S. Navy, Ret.) and Cmdr. Adam Scott motivated him to become a Test NFO.

Davis said that the direct impact he can have on development of Naval aircraft is the most exciting aspect of the job. “As a test NFO, I have been heavily involved with the development of the future of the E-6B mission systems. I have had the fortune of watching the upgraded mission system evolve as the deficiencies that I have identified are corrected. It is gratifying to know that, when the upgraded systems are fielded, I was a part of making that happen.”

“The opportunity to have a positive influence on the future of Naval Air Test and Evaluation,” is the reason Bill Warlick, the 2010 U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Instructor of the year, said he became a test pilot instructor.

“The motivation and inquisitive minds of each new class challenge me to continue to study and prepare for each exercise in which I participate,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Warlick credits his motivation to a very special teacher. “My wife (who is an awesome middle school teacher) continues to motivate me with her stories of her student’s many successes.”

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