Securing the future: supporting Naval aviation

March 24, 2020

By Ensign Samantha Alex, Chief of Naval Air Training Public Affairs

For the month of March, we continue to celebrate the vital role and contributions of women in American society, history, and of course, Naval Aviation. For us, Women’s History Month is a reminder to reflect on the past while honoring women today who continue to answer the nation’s call, whether as a military member, or as a civilian employee or contractor.

Kathy Gibson is an administrative assistant for Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) Det. Pensacola. She provides essential administrative support to Chief of Naval Air Training Det. Pensacola, which serves Training Air Wing (TRAWING) 6 aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.

TRAWING 6 conducts all naval flight officer training for the Navy and Marine Corps in addition to students from select international partner nations. Gibson processes paperwork for around 300 student naval flight officers who check into TRAWING 6 each year. Those students then begin primary/intermediate training with the “Wildcats” of Training Squadron (VT) 10 and progress either to the “Warbucks” of VT-4 or the “Sabrehawks” of VT-86 for advanced training depending on their selected pipeline. In addition, she serves personnel assigned to the Wing.

Gibson comes from a military family. Her grandfather served in the Army, an uncle served in the Air Force, another as a Merchant Marine, and her father was a chief petty officer in the Navy for 20 years. As a result she moved a lot as a child. Regardless, she considers Pensacola, the place she has lived the longest, to be her hometown. She is a mother to four sons, one of whom is an Air Force Reservist. Gibson is a valuable member of the team that produces naval flight officers for the Navy and Marine Corps. Here’s what she said about her role within CNATRA.

What do you do each day?
“I’m basically here for anybody if they need anything … I’m handling about 5 or 6 contractors for both T-45s and T-6As working with hazardous materials; order their supplies; and maintain calendars for my officer-in-charge and assistant officer-in-charge.

“It does vary. Some days, like right now, it’s a little more hectic. With this particular job that I do, since we no longer have a supply position, I’ve carried on that position through the administrative part. Once a month I have to reconcile the bank statement so I have a financial responsibility as well.”

How did you get involved in this position with the Navy?
“I have been in this wing since 2000. I came onboard as a contractor … I started worked in VT-86, then moved over to VT-4 because they liked my work ethic. I was a scheduler there but I’ve held so many positions. I’ve been at all of the squadrons except the actual wing and now I’m with CNATRA Det. I’m getting a lot of knowledge in all kinds of different positions. The best thing about that is you gather all this information and work experience that it helps you in the long run. I’m always someone who likes to strive to learn more, so I was eager to learn.”

What is your favorite part about the job?
“Interacting with the people here. If you need help, most of the time people are there to help you. The military has always been good to us civilians and contractors, they’re eager to help and listen to you. Working in this field with the military has been rewarding.”

Did you have a female mentor or role model that helped you in your career?
“I have to say it’s been mostly male commanding officers I’ve worked under, and if I had female commanding officers then I would learn from them too. Regardless of gender, they always gave you good advice; there’s just so many great people in the military that are eager to help everybody.”

Is there anything you’d like to add?
“Everyone works together as a team to make all this happen. [The military] actually takes care of you. As long as you’re doing your job and going way beyond, they treat you right and never leave you behind, which helps them in the long run and helps get all these flight students to do what they need to do.”

CNATRA, headquartered in Corpus Christi, trains the world’s finest combat quality aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in the right numbers, and at the right cost to a naval force that is where it matters, when it matters.