Since the establishment of Helicopter Training Unit ONE (HTU-1) on December 3rd 1950, the mission to train rotary wing aviators has remained the same, although the curriculum and aircraft utilized have evolved as the strategic importance and complexity of the fleet's helicopters has grown. HTU-1 designation changed again in 1957, to Helicopter Training Group ONE, before it was re-designated for the last time on July 1st 1960. As the eighth training unit designated by the Naval Air Basic Training Command, Helicopter Training Group ONE became Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT (HT-8).
In 1962, the first student was designated a Naval Aviator and helicopter pilot. Prior to this, advanced rotary wing training was only available to previously designated fixed wing Naval Aviators. In March of 1972, HT-8 moved to its present location at NAS Whiting Field in Milton, Fl. This move was coupled with the establishment of a sister squadron, Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN (HT-18).
HT-18 was born on 1 March, 1972 to fulfill the increasing requirements for helicopter trained pilots in the expanding helicopter community of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. During the period from 1972 until 1985, HT-8 was responsible for the basic helicopter instruction while HT-18 conducted the advance instrument and tactics portion of the curriculum. HT-18 assumed the responsibility of winging all newly designated Naval Helicopter Pilots. It was during this period that HT-18 earned its callsign, "FACTORYHAND". Like a factory churning out product, HT-18 "winged" all rotary wing Naval Aviators.
In October 1985, HT-8 and HT-18, became "mirror image" squadrons with both instructing the entire training syllabus. On November 1st 1985, HT-8 designated its first Naval Aviator since moving to Whiting Field in 1972.
On May 25th 2007, both HT-8 and HT-18 detached one third of their personnel to form Helicopter Training Squadron TWENTY EIGHT. In honor of their historical links to the original helicopter squadron, all sister squadrons retained the numeral eight in their designations.
Student Naval Aviators report to HT-18 for helicopter training upon completion of primary flight training conducted in the T-6B Texan II U. S. Navy primary flight trainer. During their 28 week helicopter syllabus, multi-service and allied Student Naval Aviators participate in 110 hours of ground school, 40 hours of flight simulator training, and 115 hours of actual helicopter flight training, prior to being designated "unrestricted" Naval Aviators earning their wings of gold. They are unrestricted because they are equally qualified to fly both fixed wing and rotary wing naval aircraft.
HT-18 is staffed by twelve government civilians, 5 enlisted aircrewman, and 60 fleet experienced, active duty instructor pilots, drawn from all three sea-going services. Additionally, Navy and Marine Corps reserve instructor pilots from the Squadron Augment Unit support the squadron.
HT-18 flies more than 25,000 flight hours and designates 180 Unrestricted Naval Aviators annually to meet the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard manning requirements. In doing so, the men and women of HT-18 are committed to preserving and upholding the standards of the 30,000 Naval Aviators who have been designated rotary wing pilots in the 60 years since the first squadron's commissioning.