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Naval Test Pilot School Graduates 31

Class 159 graduates from the US Naval Test Pilot School are pictured in front of the school’s aircraft, including its freshly painted T-38C Talon show bird, after a graduation ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on July 30, 2021. (US Navy photo)

The US Naval Test Pilot School held a graduation ceremony for Class 159 on July 30. After an 11-month course of instruction for designation as Engineering Developmental Test Pilots, Test Flight Officers, and Test Engineers, 31 students received their diplomas.

Retired MAJ GEN Charles Bolden delivered the keynote address. He is a graduate of the school and a former astronaut and NASA administrator.

“Follow your passion, and know why doing what you do is important,” MAJ GEN Bolden said. “I know why it’s important; we protect and defend the constitution.”

MAJ GEN Bolden, COL Richard Marigliano, commander of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, and CMDR Jeremy DeBons, commanding officer of USNTPS, presented diplomas and offered congratulations to the new “Testers.” Graduates included members of the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force; students from Italy, Spain, and Sweden; and civil service engineers from the Department of the Navy.

Navy LT Kyle Todd received the Outstanding Developmental Phase II Award, which recognizes the student who produced the best final report. The award is symbolic of the longstanding and mutually supportive relationship between the Empire Test Pilots’ School in the United Kingdom and USNTPS.

Navy LT Gordon Finlay received the Cmdr. Willie McCool Outstanding Student Award. This award recognizes the top performing student in the categories of academics, flight performance, and technical report writing. The namesake award commemorates the Navy Commander William C. McCool, a USNTPS alumnus tragically lost in the Columbia space shuttle accident.

Marine Corps MAJ Alex Horne received the CAPT Syd Sherby Leadership Award. This award, which is named after the founder of the test pilot training division, now USNTPS, recognizes the student who displays exemplary leadership.

Distinguished graduates from the class include: MAJ Alex Horne (fixed wing), LT McMillan Hastings (rotary wing), and MAJ Matthew Hamtak (airborne and unmanned systems).

Twenty students completed the requirements for the engineering test pilot course. The new test pilots are:

CAPT James N. Bashford, US Army

CAPT Matthew C. Blessing, US Air Force

CAPT Klas F. Boudrie, Swedish Air Force

LT Dominic J. Busto, US Navy

LT Nicholas J. Corey, US Navy

MAJ Tyler W. Davenport, US Marine Corps

CAPT Adam J. Fulling, US Army

Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class Caleb N. Grandy, US Army

LT McMillan J. Hastings, US Navy

MAJ Alex C. Horne, US Marine Corps

LT Cmdr. Fabio Laporta, Italian Navy

LT Alexandra R. Mensing, U.S. Navy

CAPT Minator Michele, Italian Air Force

LT Ryan R. Moeller, US Navy

CAPT Alejandro Molero Salvatierra, Spanish Air Force

LT Nicholas A. Padleckas, US Navy

CAPT Bryan J. Pulicari, US Army

LT Mitchell G. Smith, US Navy

CAPT Bennet L. Thomas, US Marine Corps

LT Spencer D. Smith, US Navy

Eight students completed the engineering test flight officer course. They are:

LT Gordon C. Finlay, US Navy

LT Robert W. Gates, US Navy

MAJ Matthew D. Hamtak, US Marine Corps

LT Adam D. Meyrick, US Navy

LT Nicholas L. Myers, US Navy

LT Karl A. Petracek, US Navy

LT George K. Philbrick, US Navy

LT Kyle S. Todd, US Navy

Three students completed the test project engineer course. They are:

1st LT Massimo Giangregorio, Italian Air Force

Erik W. Gutenkunst, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

Steven J. Puffenbarger, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

This article was provided by NAVAIR News.

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