For the first time, those training at NAS Patuxent River to be flight test pilots are doing so under the command of a U.S. Army aviator.
Lt. Col. Steven W. Kihara succeeded Navy Cmdr. Paul A. Sohl as commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Jan. 13 in Hangar 110 at Pax River. The school has long provided training in the discipline of flight test and evaluation to experienced pilots, flight officers, and engineers of all stripes. But Kihara is the first Army officer to command the prestigious institution, which according to the Navy "investigates and develops new flight test techniques, publishes manuals for use of the aviation test community for standardization of flight test techniques and project reporting, and conducts special projects."
Commissioned in the regular Army in 1984, he attended both the Army Rotary- and Fixed-wing Aircraft Qualification Courses and has served as an instructor pilot in the OH-58A/C. A Master Army Aviator, Kihara is a Naval Test Pilot School alumnus, having graduated in Class 106 in 1994. He is a certified experimental test pilot and is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He has about 3,500 hr. in more than 60 aircraft.