Barbara Gordon

Meet Barbara Gordon, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Instructor Pilot and Aviation Safety Officer (ASO)


“The military and STEM fields are challenging but extremely rewarding - on a personal level (esteem, confidence, independence) and even a financial level. Those fields will create opportunities you would not have otherwise, especially being a test pilot. It will open doors to an exclusive part of aviation. The only one in your way to achieving your dreams and goals is yourself. To be the best of yourself, you must embrace all of yourself. Be proud of who you are.”

“I think who you are: woman – man – Asian – white – purple – Christian – Muslim – straight – LBGT – etc. impacts your experience. Your identity and personality, how you were raised, all have bearing. At the Naval Academy and in the Fleet, I had worked for or with men who believed women did not belong in the Navy. The good news is that they were a small minority and are few and far between now. My parents raised me to be strong, proud, and resilient. I have had a great experience at Pax. Being a test pilot is a white male dominated profession. I think I was the 10th female pilot to graduate USNTPS. But here at Pax, it has always been about your abilities and work ethic. Everyone has challenges but I do not feel I had any unique challenges because of being female or a minority.”

  • Naval Helicopter Association, Region 4, 2002 Aircrew of the Year (non-embarked) for an un-aided night rescue of a fisherman from his sinking boat off the coast of North Carolina
  • Women in Aerospace, 2017 Aerospace Educator Award for excellence in teaching aerospace topics, motivation of students, service to colleagues and community, commitment to professional growth, and service as role model or mentor for the advancement of women in aerospace
  • 2019 Tony LeVier Flight Test Safety Award for significant contribution to the safety of flight test operations
  • 2019 Army Aviation Broken Wing Award for an event that occurred in October 2016. First Naval Aviator to ever receive this award.  The award is for outstanding airmanship, minimize or prevent aircraft damage or injury to personnel during an emergency Aircrew member must have shown extraordinary skill while recovering an aircraft from an in-flight emergency situation
  • USNTPS has been awarded five CNO Aviation Safety Awards (three in the last four years 2018, 2020, 2021) during the time she has been USNTPS’ Aviation Safety Officer ASO (since 2009)

Barbara Gordon is an instructor pilot at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS). She educates aviators and engineers in the design, risk management, execution, and communication of aircraft and systems testing for combat. She is qualified to instruct in both rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft, specifically the UH-60L Blackhawk, UH-72A Lakota, and C-12C Huron. She is also the Aviation Safety Officer (ASO) and is responsible for administering the USNTPS Aviation Safety Management System. She implements the aviation safety program designed to prevent injury to personnel and damage to aircraft.  

Gordon graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) – Class of 1989 and commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.  She was winged a Naval Aviator in 1991 and was #1 in her winging class. She flew CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters at HC-8 in Norfolk (1992-1995). She served as a Company Officer at USNA (1995-1996) prior to being selected to attend USNTPS. She graduated USNTPS in June 1997 with Class 111. Barbara served at HX-21 as a test pilot before returning to USNTPS to be an instructor pilot. She returned to the Fleet in 1999 to serve as the Assistant Air Operations Officer (mini boss) on USS BATAAN (LHD-5) followed by a Department Head tour at HC-6 in Norfolk as an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter pilot. She returned to Pax in 2004 to be an instructor pilot at USNTPS for three years and went to Bahrain for one year to serve as the Deputy Force Protection Officer for 5th Fleet/U.S. Naval Central Command then returned to USNTPS where she retired from the U.S. Navy in 2009. Gordon was hired in 2009 for her current position as a civil servant. She has been an instructor pilot at USNTPS for over 18 years, both active duty and civil service.