Objectives of the Naval Aviation Physical Training Program

An article in the CrossFit Journal reviewed and recommended a book called Gymnastics and Tumbling. Issued by the U.S. Navy in 1944, it’s a training manual for cadets, putting gymnastics on equal footing with mathematics in aviation training.

I couldn’t resist getting my own copy on eBay because it’s a collision of some of my favorite things:

  • out-of-print books
  • physical skills which seem completely outside my realm of possibility
  • mid-century relics with retro charm

When the book arrived a few weeks ago, I added it to the pile “to be read” in my living room and forgot about it until this morning.

I always read every page of a new book: title page, introduction, preface, acknowledgments. I know: so nerdy! But those easy-to-skip passages are often where you can find tasty nuggets. With fiction, those are places where the author can sneak in details that the editor won’t allow in the narrative of the book — and with non-fiction, you can usually find cool details about the author’s research or their point-of-view… again, stuff that the kill-joy editors usually delete.

In the introduction on page vii to Gymnastics and Tumbling, I found this:

The objectives of the Naval Aviation Gymnastic and Tumbling Program to be achieved through tumbling (failing), vaulting, climbing, balancing, and apparatus stunts (supporting and hanging) are:

1. To give training in the native sense of balance.
2. To equip the future pilot with strength and skill to extricate himself effectively from emergency situations requiring climbing, vaulting, tumbling, and balance.
3. To develop daring and courage.
4. To accustom the cadet to being upside down for extended periods.
5. To teach falling and landing without injury.

To develop daring and courage!




Can’t you just hear the voice-over booming that phrase over the backdrop of ’40s film? Like an Esther Williams movie…

The Best Version of Ourselves 2018

The post below was originally published in 2011, and it's been updated each year to reflect where I am in my life and the new...

Read More
A Little Respect (Strength Monday 7/8/13)

In my quest for lean superhero-ness, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy stuff and work on skills...

Read More