Gavin Eppard became WHOI’s newest Alvin pilot on March 21, making his first solo dive on an expedition to a submerged mountain range on the East Pacific Rise, about 4,400 kilometers (2,000 miles) west of South America. He is the 35th person to complete pilot training for operation of the 40-year-old submersible.
Eppard, 34, has spent approximately eight months a year at sea on R/V Atlantis since June 2001 to complete his training. It includes learning nearly 200 mechanical, hydraulic, computer, and electrical systems needed to operate Alvin and completing several oral examinations on operational systems, scientific sampling, engineering, and safety. Alvin pilots-in-training also make several dives with pilots before diving solo.