Welcome to Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT and congratulations for successfully completing your Primary Flight Training Syllabus. As you enter the squadron, you will walk under the words “The Best Helicopter Pilots in the World are Trained Here”. This has been true since 1950 and we are here to train you in the challenging syllabus of Advanced Rotary Wing Aviation. I can think of no greater way to begin your day than to realize that upon successful completion of this program, you will have the coveted Wings of Gold pinned on your chest. At the same time you will be designated an Unrestricted Naval Aviator, able to fly fixed and rotary wing aircraft.  Your instructors come from every community in United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard rotary wing aviation. Some may even come from our allied partners. They have vast experience in their respective careers and will share that experience with you. Whether they have flown multiple combat missions, daring all-weather rescues or crucial logistical support to civilian and military units, the reason they are here is to make you more than just a helicopter pilot. When they succeed in accomplishing HT-8’s mission, you will be a confident and capable pilot who they would be proud to fly with in the fleet.  I need you to look forward to your time here and use all of HT-8’s resources to your advantage. It will be my pleasure to welcome you aboard upon your arrival.


This personal copy of a original “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” card handed out to LCDR Tom Phillips, USN (Ret.) when he received his wings at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, FL on June 17, 1970. Tom is Naval Helicopter Pilot Designator Number 11,134.

Does anyone else have one of these cards or remember the particulars about “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” and/or the cards!


September 9, 2019

CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.) here. I am currently the President of the Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society (NHAHS) and we met at the Bahia Hotel in San Diego when you received the NHA Corporate Award. Recently we were asked the question where the term “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” originated/came from? Do you know the history of the term/phrase? We know the meaning although maybe not an exact definition, it means… helicopter pilots can fly both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. We traced the term back as far as 1970 to a card that you were signing at the time for newly designated helicopter pilots and thought you might be able to provide us some history given you used the “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” designation term on these cards. Any information that you may be able to provide would be both helpful and appreciated. See attached signed designation card from 1970 for then Ensign Tom Phillips, USN. Thank you for your assistance with this matter and for your continued support of NHA.
Warm Regards,
Bill Personius


Sergei Sikorsky’s answer to CAPT Bill Personius’s question on who was the originator of the terms “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” September 9, 2019 in his own words!

This is a picture of a very early member of the Navy’s “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” community as a LTJG aboard the USS Wisconsin, (BB-64) off Korea in 1953. He was in HU-1 Detachment flying this HRS-1 Sikorsky Helicopter. He personally coined the use of the terms to describe Naval Helicopter Pilots as “Unrestricted Naval Aviators!”

CDR Bob Close Perspective on Unrestricted Naval Aviators


In my time, June 1941 – October 1965, Unrestricted Line was fairly simple. You were either a non-aviator Regular Blackshoe or Reserve Blackshoe(1300/1305) or a Regular Brownshoe or Reserve Brownshoe (Aviator 1310/1315). Each had sub-category designations such Lighter-than-Air only, sub qualified, etc.

If you weren’t one of those, you were either a Staff Corps (Supply, Civil Eng, etc), or an EDO (Engineering Duty only), LDO (Limited Duty Only) – like Flying Chiefs given Temporary commissions). All Unrestricted Line could be considered in line for Command-at-Sea consideration.

In my helo years, 1949-65, all helo pilots were fully qualified as unrestricted Line Naval Aviators. Some of the first helo pilots in the 47-49 period came from the discontinued VO/VCS (non-aviation ship float plane pilots). Three of my Academy classmates were in this category. We all had spent the final year of WWII as ship’s officers, most in the Pacific, before being permitted to apply for flight training. All had served in a fixed wing squadron. Hope this helps.

CDR Bob Close, USN (Ret.)

Navy Helo Pilot #153,



Not sure where the thread started, so I’ll include everyone in the address line. The term “Unrestricted Naval Aviator” actually has its’ roots in the aeromedical community. 

An Unrestricted Naval Aviator is a Medical Class I, Medical Service Group 1 aviator.   They can fly anything (if qual’d in type), anywhere, any time, unrestricted.  Here is the breakdown for SA:

Class I: Naval Aviators and Student Naval Aviators.

     SG1 – Aviators qualified for unlimited or unrestricted flight duties

     SG2 – Aviators restricted from shipboard aircrew duties (include V/STOL) except helicopter

     SG3 – Aviators restricted to operating aircraft equipped with dual controls and accompanied on all flights by a pilot or copilot of SG1 or SG2, qualified in the model of aircraft operated. A waiver to medical Service Group 3 includes pilot-in-command (PIC) authority unless PIC authority is specifically restricted.

Class II: Aviation personnel other than Class I. ….Think Naval Flight Officers (NFO), mission observers/intel/linguists/techs, Flight Surgeons, and other persons ordered to duty involving flying and / or will fly on a regular basis.

Class III: Members in aviation related duty not requiring them to personally be airborne ….Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs), flight deck, and flight line personnel.

Class IV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operators

So recap… the ‘Unrestricted’ part refers to an aviator’s Service Group under Class I aeromedical classification.

I hope this was helpful!  Cheers!  VR/ VooDoo

James T. Gilson, MD, MPH


Aerospace Medicine & Occupational Medicine