By Lt. Paula Knight
A 2012, Goose Creek Memorial High School graduate and Baytown native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.
Ensign Chris Cowen is a student pilot with the “Wise Owls” of Training Squadron (VT) 31, based in Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. The squadron flies the T-44C Pegasus aircraft.
A Navy student pilot is responsible for learning how to fly a multi-engine aircraft.
“Flying is pretty cool in itself so being able to learn about naval aviation is rewarding,” Cowen said.
Cowen credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Baytown. “I learned a good sense of responsibility and work ethic from my parents,” Cowen said.
The T-44C Pegasus is a twin-engine, pressurized, fixed-wing monoplane used for advanced turboprop radar aircraft training using two 550 shaft horsepowered engines, with a cruising airspeed of 287 mph.
VT-31’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values. After completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”
After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Cowen is most proud of getting selected to fly the E6 aircraft, Boeing 77.
“It is a coveted selection that I am really proud to have earned,” Cowen said.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Cowen, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Cowen is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“I have a few family members serving in the military, including my older brother, he is the reason I went into the Navy,” Cowen said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Cowen and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs. “Serving in the Navy is an opportunity to serve a cause bigger than myself,” Cowen said.