KINGSVILLE, Texas - A 2011 Shawnee High School graduate and Shawnee, Oklahoma, native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.

Lt. j.g. Cooper Dylan Ansell is a student pilot with the “Golden Eagles” of Training Squadron (VT) 22, based in Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies T-45C Goshawk aircraft.

A Navy student pilot is responsible for learning to safely maneuver aircraft in order to be able to move on to future airframes in the Navy Fleet.

“I enjoy getting in an aircraft and flying because it was always my dream to fly growing up and being able to pursue that with the Navy has been fun,” Dylan Ansell said.

Dylan Ansell credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Shawnee.

“Growing up playing sports with my friends in my hometown, helped me to be competitive and work hard in everything I do,” Dylan Ansell said. “I try to apply that to my everyday life and my naval career.”

The T-45C Goshawk is a tandem-seat, jet trainer aircraft powered by a twin-spool non-afterburn turbofan engine with 5,527 pounds of thrust and airspeed of 645 mph.

VT-22’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete many 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, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”

After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack jet aircraft or the F-35 Lightning joint strike fighter jet. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Dylan Ansell plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Dylan Ansell is most proud of a leadership award he received during his commissioning week at the Navy Academy.

“One of our main goals as officers is to be a good leader and to be recognized for that, means a lot,” Dylan Ansell said.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Dylan Ansell, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Dylan Ansell is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My great-grandfather served in the Navy as a seabee in the Pacific during WWII and my grandfather and uncle both served in the Air Force,” Dylan Ansell said. “It means a lot to join these men and continue the great work they did before me.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Dylan Ansell and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“It means a lot to me to be able to learn from some of the best aviators in the world and continue to get better every day,” Dylan Ansell said.