Naval aviator powers up his education with MIT OpenCourseWare
Daryle Cardone uses the Institute’s free online course lessons to prepare for future study in physics and math.

Mark Brown
Office of Digital Learning

Daryle Cardone (Photo: Daryle Cardone)

Daryle Cardone (Photo: Daryle Cardone)

Daryle Cardone is a naval aviator and the commanding officer to a squadron of early warning aircraft that operate from the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Known as the Bluetails, Cardone’s squadron consists of 150 pilots, ground crew and other personnel who support four E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. These top-heavy planes carry enormous radar and communication systems on their backs, and serve a critical role in modern military engagements: Each plane acts as a flying command and communications hub, responsible for detecting other planes, ships and ground vehicles from the sky, and coordinating military strikes.

A quick scan of Cardone’s achievements shows that he has no shortage of ambition or talent: He’s a graduate of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (popularly known as TOPGUN) and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School; he’s logged more than 2,800 flight hours and 120 combat missions; and he has a long list of impressive assignments and honors to his name.

Like all naval aviators, Cardone has acquired an engineering-level understanding of the planes he flies — he had to study complex concepts like lift, drag and thrust in detail during flight school. “The engineering part of flight school wasn’t always easy for me,” he admits. “I was a music major in college, and that meant I had to work a lot harder than some of my peers in those aeronautics courses.”

Cardone considered his undergraduate music major a handicap, as he recently considered trying to establish academic eligibility for the Navy’s prestigious Aviation Nuclear Power Program. “I had always known about the prerequisites in calculus and physics to be eligible for the Aviation Nuclear Power Program. The leap felt too big between where I was and where I needed to be,” he says. Read more.