Tulane ROTC hosts aviation fly-in, female mentorship panel 

By MIDN 3/C Hannah McCall, Tulane NROTC Public Affairs Officer 

September 25, 2022 

Students examining the cockpit of a TH-57 Sea Ranger

 It was an event your typical college student will never experience. 

Navy and Marine Corps instructor pilots and student naval aviators from Naval Air Station Whiting Field visited Lakefront Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sept. 23. They met 40 midshipmen (MIDN) from Tulane University Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit and middle and high school students from Bright House Learning Center in Mandeville, Louisiana. The visit promoted the Naval Aviation community and allowed college students and future officers hands-on experience with the platforms. 

Students had the opportunity to examine aircraft from Training Air Wing Five, including six TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopters with the “Eightballers” of Helicopter Training Squadron (HT) 8 and one T-6B Texan II with the “Doerbirds” of Training Squadron (VT) 2. 

“It’s super awesome. We really love the opportunity to talk to other people about our community,” said Lt. j.g. Margarita Ayala, HT-8 student naval aviator. “We love what we do, and we take passion in it, so being able to talk to other people about it is always a pleasure.” 

The pilots gave exterior and internal aircraft tours on the flight line, answering the students’ questions. MIDN received close-up explanations of all aircraft parts, functions, and systems. Being on the airfield with these professionals and their aircraft was an exciting experience, especially for students who have never been to a working airport. 

Student Naval Aviator from VT-2 showing MIDN 3/C Wicher the cockpit of a T-6 Texan

 All aviation communities are different. Each one specializes in accomplishing specific tasks and missions. This fly-in was the perfect opportunity for students to learn more about primary flight training and the rotary-wing community. 

“I liked the fly-in event,” said MIDN 3/C Phillip Burke. “Something that stood out for me was how open and casual the pilots were.” 

The following day, all female members of the NROTC unit met with pilots in a female mentorship panel at the Tulane Navy Building on Tulane University’s Uptown campus. Also in attendance were Capt. Lena Kaman, Commanding Officer Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Capt. Jennifer Wilderman (retired) Tulane University Class of ’94, and the base Security Officer, Lt. McDuffie. Moderated by MIDN 2/C Zoe Alvarez, the panel was an opportunity for the female students to ask pilots questions about life in the fleet and further advice on the aviation community. A social afterward allowed the students to talk to the pilots in a more informal setting. 

MIDN and Tulane Staff Officers are listening to advice from a VT-2 instructor pilot 

It was a beneficial experience for the students since life in the fleet may be different for female service members. The pilots shared experiences and gave the students foresight into their Navy and Marine Corps careers. 

“I loved the female aviators and the mentorship panel,” said MIDN 3/C Nina Staben. “We got to connect with them on a personal level.” 

The mentorship panel allowed students and instructors to socialize freely and exchange knowledge in a laid-back atmosphere. Students gleaned valuable information from the pilots, and some pilots even learned a thing or two about the NROTC program, too! 

NROTC students and pilots at the Tulane Navy Building.