U.S. NAVY AVIATION EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGIST / PHYSIOLOGIST BADGE
April 12, 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the authorization for a new wing insignia: Aviation Experimental Psychologists and Aviation Physiologists (MILSPERMAN 1210-070 and 1210-080 use the word “Aerospace” rather than “Aviation”).
The decision by the Under Secretary of the Navy to establish the new insignia was preceded by a decision in February, 1966 to designate both of these Medical Service Corps positions as crew members and assigned to duties that involved flying. Some of those duties included training for aircrew personnel in the use of egress systems and protective equipment, testing and evaluating aircraft systems, and conducting analysis of the performance of aircrews in both training and fleet operations involving a wide variety of tactics and weapons systems.
The requirements to earn either of these designations are very similar, but not identical. Both Physiologists and Experimental Psychologists must have completed Officer Indoctrination School, as well as Aviation Pre-Flight Indoctrination held at Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola; this includes the flight curriculum that has been prescribed by Chief of Air Naval Training for Student Flight Surgeons (waived for candidates who were previously designated as Naval Aviators or Naval Flight Officers).
However, Aviation Physiologist candidates must successfully complete the basic swim, land survival, and naval aviation water survival training components of the flight curriculum. Experimental Psychologists, on the other hand, simply have to pass a flight physical—but they also must pass the Aeromedical Officer Course hosted by the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI), also in Pensacola.
Candidates who meet the requirements for their respective fields receive official designation and the right to wear the insignia from the Chief of Naval Personnel or the Commanding Officer of the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center. Aviation Experimental Psychologists who fail to meet the physical requirements for flying will have their cases sent to the Chief of NAMI, who evaluates grounds for physical disqualification and forwards a recommendation to the Chief of Naval Personnel. At that point, the officer will either retain Class II flight status and receive a waiver for any documented physical defects, be restricted from flight duties, or be reassigned to duty outside an aeronautical organization.