Richmond native named commanding officer of United States Naval Test Pilot School

The United States Naval Test Pilot School’s 50th commanding officer, Cmdr. Jeremy DeBons, shakes hands with former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Rory Feely, after an airborne change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on July 15

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — A Lamar Consolidated High School graduate has taken command of the Navy’s test pilot school.

Cmdr. Jeremy “Silas” DeBons took command of the United States Naval Test Pilot School from Lt. Col. Rory “Pikey” Feely during an airborne change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, July 15.

Col. Richard E. Marigliano, Commodore of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, presided over the ceremony.

“USNTPS is the foundation of all we do in flight test and Lt. Col. Feely has passionately led this organization, maintaining academic excellence and championing the school at every turn,” said Marigliano.

“Cmdr. DeBons is ready to take the reins and will continue to train the students at USNTPS to be ready for the toughest of challenges.”

DeBons, who served as USNTPS’ executive officer for the last 18 months, is the first commanding officer of USNTPS who did not graduate from the school.

He participated in an exchange program with the French Test Pilot School (EPNER), another one of the four major test pilot schools around the world.

“I remember the constant repetition of ‘travail en equipe’ or as we would say in English, ‘teamwork’,” said DeBons. “Flight test is not a one-person show, it is a collaborative effort because no one person has the answers, and that is foundational to all that we teach here.”

While DeBons brings a diversity of academic experience, he says training at EPNER is not that different as problem solving and critical thinking are at the core of each school’s curricula.

DeBons grew up in Richmond and graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in 1998, and attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned his degree in mechanical engineering. After his commissioning as a Navy ensign, he went to flight school and became an F/A-18 pilot in a career that has taken him around the world. Since 2016, DeBons has been at Patuxent River working in support of USNTPS and the acquisition community.

“Growing up so close to Houston and my dad being a Navy reservist, I always knew the path to being an astronaut was through test pilot school,” said DeBons. “I just couldn’t have imagined, as a child, the endless possibilities available.”

DeBons’s parents, Gene and Cinda DeBons, still live in Richmond.

USNTPS trains pilots and engineers for development, test, and evaluation of aircraft. USNTPS is a component of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, test wing under Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland. NAWCAD advances capability and operational readiness for naval aviation and its warfighters.

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