For some college graduates, the sky is the limit. West Virginia University’s Evan Grinstead is taking that literally.

The industrial engineering major from Point Pleasant, who was commissioned on May 14, has been accepted into the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program and will train with the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas to become a combat pilot.

Grinstead is the only WVU graduate in recent memory to be accepted into ENJJPT, the world’s only multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO. His training will be conducted by a team of international instructor pilots.

“This was a ‘fingers-crossed’ kind of thing,” Grinstead said. “You have to compete just to get into pilot training because so many people want to get in and to get into ENJPP you have to compete again.”

ENJJPT typically accepts around 40-60 trainees a year from a pool of 500 or 600 Air Force ROTC pilots. Participants are chosen based on their standing on the national Order of Merit List, which is calculated using field training rank (boot camp), college grade-point average, commander’s ranking, physical fitness assessment score and PCSM score, an amalgamation of several pilot aptitude tests and gauges.

Grinstead said WVU has prepared him well for his challenges. After his sophomore year, he was picked No. 1 in his flight at a national field training and his group was also first among 25 groups. That ranking, he said, helped him earn serious consideration from ENJPPT.

“I think the training I received here at WVU from my cadre, captains and the colonels got me ready to go leadership-wise. The opportunities I’ve had go back to training at WVU.”

The U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Turkey are among the nations who participate and provide instructor pilots.

Grinstead said he will attend several training sessions before his official start in ENJPPT in 2011.

He is the son of Randy and Barbara Grinstead.



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