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Swisher native Conor Mittauer trains to serve as the next generation of U.S. Naval Aviation Warfighters

Lieutenant Junior Grade Conor Mittauer is a student pilot with the “Stingrays” of Training Squadron (VT) 35, based in Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. The squadron flies the T-44C Pegasus aircraft. (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Finley)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas– A 2012 Cedar Rapids Prairie High School graduate and Swisher native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Conor Mittauer is a student pilot with the “Stingrays” of Training Squadron (VT) 35, based in Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. The squadron flies the T-44C Pegasus aircraft.
A Navy student pilot is responsible for training to become a maritime pilot.
“I enjoy how extremely challenging the training program is,” Mittauer said.
Mittauer credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Swisher.
“Growing up in a small town taught me to stay humble and know there’s always more work to be done,” he said.
The T-44C Pegasus is a twin-engine, pressurized, fixed-wing monoplane used for advanced turboprop radar aircraft training using two 550 shaft horse-powered engines, with a cruising airspeed of 287 m.p.h.
VT-35’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly, as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete four phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training and advanced flight training. After successfully 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.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact America is a maritime nation and the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade, by volume, travels by sea.
Mittauer plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Mittauer is most proud of receiving his Naval aviator wings.
“Going through the training to earn my wings was a lot of work, but I did it,” Mittauer said.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Mittauer, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Mittauer is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My dad was a Navy psychiatrist, my mom a Navy nurse and my uncle a Black Hawk pilot,” he explained. “I grew up around the military all my life and it was clear I was going to go Navy. I enjoyed learning from my parent’s stories. I am wearing my mother's lieutenant junior grade patches. She has passed away, so this is the best way to honor her memory.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Mittauer and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“I am proud of giving back to a country that has set me up for success through my parents,” Mittauer added. “I know I owe back some of those benefits and I feel the Navy is the best pathway for that.”