If it seems like rank and other recognition in VFA-41 is mostly dependent upon participation, and very little on skill or ability, you have discovered the secret of the Black Aces.
In fact, the first line on the Rank Structure page says, "Rank in VFA-41 primarily denotes recognition for accumulated active participation in squadron missions." So it's not really a secret.
Our Greenie Board is another example. It doesn't matter which wire you catch, it only counts total number of successful traps. To get successful traps, you have to fly missions!
Unlike other squadrons, it doesn't matter if you're buddies with the CO or not. Everyone has an exactly equal opportunity for promotion and recognition. Every Black Ace who has earned his wings in VFA-41 had to accomplish the exact same training and exercises.
Some pilots meet the bare minimum participation requirements. That's OK. That's why we have minimum requirements. Other pilots seek more than the bare minimum. That's even better. As always, it doesn't matter how 'good' you are, it's only ever about if you show up.
So we have a weekly squadron campaign mission. Show up for those, and you are certainly meeting bare minimum participation requirements. BUT, there are commonly unscheduled missions as well. When? Well, they are unscheduled... the best way to participate in an unscheduled missions is to, a) host one, b) request one from someone who can host*, and especially c) be online on Discord. If you set yourself to 'invisible' on Discord, or simply don't generally have it running, you won't see missions pop-up and can't be invited.
As always, the Training Range server is up 24 hours a day. It's never a bad idea to get in there and knock some rust off of weapons systems you haven't used in a while! While Training Range visits don't count toward mission credit, if you can't make a Sunday mission, it does reflect activity that the XO can see when he is deciding if pilots are meeting the minimum 'one flight a week' standard. Personal training counts.
*Any qualified Mission Commander should be able to setup a mission on the squadron server.
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