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Aspiring pilots in Sicily will have an easier time getting their civilian wings.

Next month, Naval Air Station Sigonella will open a testing center that supports certification and licensing programs with the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communications Commission.

Defense Department ID cardholders can use the Computer Assisted Testing Service — or CATS — center to take online exams.

“Once they take the requisite courses, [CATS] allows them to take exams to get certified,” said Mike Sloane, Navy Personnel Development Command’s regional training authority.

The center offers exams in areas including recreational and private pilot licenses, flight engineer, parachute rigger, and airframes and power plants. Located at the NAS II Base Education and Training Department, it also offers Microsoft certifications.

Sloane said the center will save students money. Previously, they had to fly to Germany or the States to get certified.

There is no fee to use the center, and fees vary depending on type of exam. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, which funds the center, reimburses students for some fees.

The base requested the center after flying aficionados discussed setting up a flying club.

Petty Officer 1st Class John Childers, an aviation structural mechanic for Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 4, and other sailors have worked for two years to get a flying club up and running.

Sigonella hasn’t had a flying club for about 20 years, when it used a plane from Naples.

About 50 people have joined the new club, which is rebuilding a 1972 Cessna. Childers said the club is working with the Italian military to get permission to operate.

For information on the CATS center, call DSN 624-9406. For information on the flying club, call DSN 624-5464.


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