Navy Flight School: NIFE Phase 2

In case you missed it from my first post covering Phase I, the US Navy moved from the old program known as API and is now using NIFE (Naval Introductory Flight Evaluation) as the first stop in the journey to becoming a Naval Aviator / Flight Officer. This post will cover Phase II: the academic phase.


  • Phase II is a three week period of five courses: Aero, Engines, Flight Rules and Regulations (FRR), Navigation, and Weather—in that order
  • All exams are multiple-choice and are done under a time constraint of fifty minutes, except for Nav, for which you’re given about two hours
  • A passing score is an 80%, while the minimum grade average/NSS is something like an 86%/36 (can’t remember)
  • Failing exams results in a pink sheet (demerit), a hit to your NSS, and a trip to the CO for a PRB in your whites
  • There are multiple exams in a week and you’ll be taught future material before completing the nearest exam so balance your time and resources
  • Study in groups and utilize your instructors outside of class hours
  • Check out Savannah Leigh’s videos on YouTube for a far more detailed look into some of the academics

Week One

Under a normal five-day week, you’ll start your two-class-per-day schedule on Monday with Aero and Engines. Expect to be seated by 0800 for instruction until about 1400 with an hour break for lunch. Almost all of your instructors will be O3’s from the Navy and Marine Corps and, in my experience, were all awesome. The Aero review will be on Thursday with the exam being Friday morning. If you fail the exam you’ll either retest the following business day or roll to the next NIFE class (it seems to keep changing).

Week Two

The second week of NIFE academics will be the Engines test on Monday and FRR on Friday. This week usually catches people a bit by surprise as you’ll be focused on learning NAV and the intricacies of the infamous Wiz Wheel in anticipation of the Nav exam in Week Three. As you can see, the timing of all the academics can start to be problematic and people tend to let FRR slip. Balance your time and study in small groups and you’ll be fine. You do have all weekend to study Nav, after all. 

Week Three

The last week of NIFE academics includes the Nav exam on Tuesday (maybe Monday?) and your final exam, Weather, on Friday. Most people struggle with Nav so my advice is to study in a group for this and do every single practice problem in the book. The repetition is the best way to get better at those kinds of problems. Weather is notoriously the tightest timeline with only a couple of days given to learn the material so, if possible, start early. It’s a lot of memorization and mnemonic devices to remember specific relationships so early repetition certainly helps.

Week Four

Although Academics is only three weeks, the fourth week is still in the classroom but the focus is now preparing you for the flight phase: piloting the mighty (and dilapidated) Cessna C172. This week will focus on the various systems of the Cessna, emergency procedures and limits, and a general introduction into how the military expects you to fly: course rules, landing pattern, etc. It’s a pretty tame week culminating in an EP and Limits exam on Friday which, if you pass, allows you to change into your flight suit and start your journey of trying to look way cooler than you really are.