Pensacola native earns her wings onboard NAS Whiting Field

Published on September 20, 2018 with No Comments

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Naval Air Station Whiting Field, FL – After growing up surrounded by naval aviation in Pensacola and Northwest Florida, Lt. j.g. Lauren Burns earned her wings of gold onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field on Friday, August 24 at a winging ceremony.

Burns was influenced by military aviation and aircraft flying from nearby NAS Whiting Field, NAS Pensacola, Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), and Hurlburt Field, Florida.  She said while growing up, she would watch the Blue Angels practice from her backyard.

“I admired [the Blue Angels] and wondered what it would be like to fly,” Burns recalls. Her interest to pursue aviation as her career, however, didn’t start until she was doing “summer training excursions” as a Midshipman at Norwich University, Vermont.

Burns’ influence to pursue aviation was primarily from living in Pensacola, but her late grandfather was enlisted in the Navy and worked on the Blue Angels aircraft for several years. Burns’ father would tell her stories of her grandfather and show Burns her grandfather’s military memorabilia. As a gift on the day she winged, her father presented Burns a pair of wings with the Blue Angels on it that had belonged to her grandfather.

Lt. j.g. Lauren Burns is pinned with her wings of gold by her father, Robert E. Burns, on Friday Aug. 24, 2018 onboard NAS Whiting Field. (Photo by Lt. j.g. Matt Lembo, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs Office)

After commissioning from Norwich University in 2016, Burns began her path to wings the same place all Naval Aviators have started for decades.  She spent six weeks on classroom academics and physiological training in aviation pre-flight indoctrination (API) onboard NAS Pensacola. She then came to NAS Whiting Field for primary flight training in Training Squadron Two (VT-2), flying the T6-B Texan II.

Following primary flight training, Burns selected to fly the TH-57 Sea Ranger onboard NAS Whiting Field under Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8).

“Going through flight school has afforded me self-confidence,” Burns says. “I surprised myself so many times with what I was capable of doing. In the beginning of every new block of flights, I’d feel overwhelmed with the influx of information that would be coming my way, but I always pushed through it and learned from both the good and the bad flights.”

Burns said that her favorite part of flight school was watching herself and her peers grow as professionals and aviators. She is looking forward to joining the fleet after two years of training to be “integrated into the mission and for the leadership opportunities that are to come.”

Burns says that the best part of being in the Navy is the people. “The individuals I have met during my time in the Navy are incredible and all so different. It’s amazing how so many unique individuals can come together to form such a well-functioning, dynamic team.”

Burns was joined Friday, August 24 on stage by her husband, 1st Lt. Kevin Stupak, USMC, her brother, Robert E. Burns IV, her mother, Tammy Burns, her best friend, Kelsey Gallagher, her grandmother, Brenda Smith, and was pinned with her wings of gold by her father, Robert E. Burns III.

Burns is headed to Norfolk, Va. for training in her fleet helicopter at Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two (HSC-2) flying the MH-60S.

“My current short-term hopes for my career progression are to finish the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) syllabus and pick up an expeditionary squadron out of Norfolk,” Burns commented. “As for my long-term hopes, I have considered the possibility of switching over to the flight surgeon program after flying in the fleet for a few years.”

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