Surprise, surprise! I completed the Navy advanced flight training in December 1955, received Wings of Gold and my commission as Ensign. And, I was given orders to report to Headquarters U.S. Naval Aviation Training Command for duty as a Flight Instructor in the Basic Training program at NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida. There goes all that Jet Aircraft training I successfully completed for naught! I'm back to the SNJ Texan teaching primary aircraft flight procedures! But, I enjoyed instructing and considered it was the best job in the Navy.
One student I flew with named Artim, did whatever I showed him better than I had demonstrated. I later read in the Goshawk that he had 70% hits in the banner as a student in Gunnery. Then the other side of the equation was a student that was so bad that I recommended him to be dropped from the flight program. The CNABTRA admiral sent him back for another chance and that student crashed and died.
One of the maneuvers taught was a simulated low altitude emergency out of Brewton airfield. As the Instructor in a T-28 Trojan, I liked to recover at low altitude and fly up the river, then climb to pattern altitude for entry at NAS Whiting and roll the aircraft coming out on heading, altitude, airspeed, power setting, with the Cowl Flaps closing. Someone reported my performances and I may have received a Letter of Reprimand. (Better than no mail at all.) The safety officer and training personnel didn't like me getting out of the aircraft before it stopped as my student taxied into the chocks.
In spite of complaints about my shortcuts and spectacular demonstrations of flying and instructing I made Instructor of the month by flying 163 flight hours in July 1956 which gave me a Letter of Commendation. Additionally, I was allowed to fly the TV-2 shooting Star as a reward. Another fun memory of mine was my first flight in the T34 Mentor. It was a four plane division takeoff for an Armed Forces Day parade. I got a White Hat lineman to start the T-34 engine.
My flight instructor tour in the Navy gave me great experience in flying while training new NavCads and military officers how to fly and stay alive in a dangerous and exciting profession. I would have been happy continuing in such a rewarding and satisfying occupation that made me a confident and expert pilot. My obligated active duty time was over in November 1957 and I departed the Navy expecting my father to invite me to work with him. When I wasn't asked to come with him I went to New Orleans looking for work. There was one job flying a Lockheed Lodestar and another flying seaplanes out to the oil rigs. I looked into the Navy Reserve.