Ortega resident trains to be naval aviator

Ortega resident trains to be naval aviator
Michael Pentaleri (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Finley)

Bolles alumnus currently based in Corpus Christi

Six years ago, a young Ortega man committed to the United States Naval Academy during the Bolles School’s annual college athletic commitment ceremony. A member of the Bolles boys’ crew team, Michael Pentaleri said he would also row for the men’s crew at the USNA.

            Now the 2013 Bolles graduate is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators, according to a story by Lt. Paula Knight, Navy Office of Community Outreach, based in Millington, Tennessee.

            “I’ve strived to be a Naval aviator since I was five years old,” Pentaleri said. “My hard work in high school and college was focused on getting selected into the aviation community.”

            Ensign Pentaleri is a student pilot with the “Stingrays” of Training Squadron (VT) 35, based in Naval Air Station Corpus, Christi, Texas. The squadron flies the T-44C Pegasus aircraft.

As a Navy student pilot, Pentaleri is responsible for learning the basic flying skills and the decision-making process involved with Naval aviation.

            “I enjoy the constant progression of developing my skills,” Pentaleri said in the story, and credited his success in the Navy to many of the lessons he learned growing up in Jacksonville.

            “My parents taught me a great work ethic and through rowing, in high school and college, I learned perseverance,” said the young pilot, whose parents are Dr. Michael and Sharon Pentaleri of Ortega.

            “My father was a Navy doctor, so I grew up in three Navy towns,” Pentaleri said. “I have always been around the camaraderie and I wanted to continue to be part of that community. My younger brother is a surface warfare officer and my sister is a mid-shipman.”

            Daphne Vagenas, senior associate of college counseling at The Bolles School, said Pentaleri sought her out – far earlier than his peers did – to plan his next step toward his goal to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. “Michael possesses ideal qualities for a Naval officer: dogged determination, strong leadership, superior intelligence, and careful forethought,” wrote Vagenas in her recommendation for his nomination to the Academy.

            “In our everchanging world, I take comfort in knowing that Michael is the best example of the young adults who enter the military with a desire to serve their country and protect its citizens. I am so incredibly proud of him and honored to have encouraged him on his journey.”

            Pentaleri’s cross country coach at Bolles also shared his thoughts about the success of his former student.

            “I had the pleasure of being Michael’s cross country coach for all six years that he ran cross country at Bolles,” said Tony Ryan, Bolles teacher and coach. “Michael ran cross country in the fall and he rowed for the Bolles crew team in the spring.  I also had the pleasure of being Michael’s 11th grade academic advisor at Bolles. Michael epitomized everything that we expect to see at Bolles from a student-athlete. He was an excellent student, he was a dedicated athlete, he was a great teammate, and most, importantly, he was just an overall great young man. Michael was inducted into the National Honor Society at Bolles and to be inducted a student is expected to excel in the areas of Scholarship, Leadership, Character, and Service. Michael went above and beyond in all four areas. 

            “It’s great to see him in a role where he now has a positive impact on the lives and careers of others,” Ryan continued. “I know that he made his school, his family, and his country proud with all that he has accomplished up to now and what I am sure he will accomplish in the future.”

            Pentaleri must complete four phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training, and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, the young naval aviator will earn his coveted “Wings of Gold.”

            After graduation, he will learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and will later be assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.

            Coincidentally, the first production P-8A was handed over to the Navy by Boeing in March 2010 and flew to Naval Air Station Jacksonville for training with the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Fleet Replacement Squadron, Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30). To date, nearly 100 P-8As have been delivered to the U.S. Navy, of which approximately 40 are based at NAS Jacksonville.

By Kate A. Hallock

Resident Community News

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