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Yuma Avenger selected for test pilot training

By Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison | | April 15, 2010

A Marine Attack Squadron 211 pilot is slated to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Md., July 10, 2010, marking the first time a Wake Island Avenger has done so in at least five years.

Maj. Casey Elam, VMA-211 maintenance officer, was one of nine Marines selected for the school in 2010.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was a young person,” said Elam. “It’s my honor to have this opportunity to learn and grow as an aviator.”

Growing up near a small airport in Waynesville, Ohio, Elam started flying aircraft such as gliders and biplanes when he was 13. He then studied aviation at the Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Pilots spend the first half of the yearlong course flying various aircraft, such as the F/A-18 Hornet and the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter. The second half familiarizes pilots on technical knowledge, such as weapons and navigation systems.

Test pilot selectees must have more than 1,000 flight hours and completed college calculus and physics or mechanics, but Elam’s qualifications go beyond mere checkmarks.

“Elam is a highly qualified instructor pilot who’s proven himself to teach and fly to a high standard,” said Lt. Col. Vance Cryer, VMA-211 commanding officer. “He’s one of the more talented instructors in the community.”

Elam has passed down his knowledge of flying since his commission in May 1998. He’s taught pilots aerial combat in VMA-211 and VMA-214. Elam also flew more than 150 combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I’ve dedicated my life to the mastery of my craft,” said Elam. “I’ll be flying airplanes long after I get out of the Marine Corps.”

After graduating, Elam will report to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California, where he is slated to serve Training Squadron 31 in an AV-8B Harrier development and research team.

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