Wednesday, September 02, 2009

TRAWING 5 Welcomes New Training Aircraft

Fire trucks spray a bridge of water over two T-6B training aircraft to celebrate their arrival. The aircraft will be used to replace the venerable T-34C Turbo Mentor plane in flight training for student pilots. (U.S. Navy photo by Jay Cope/Released)

NAVAL AIR STATION WHITING FIELD, Fla. (NNS) -- Inclement weather failed to dim the enthusiasm of the more than 150 people who assembled to see the first new airframe at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in more than 30 years.

The arrival of the Texan signals the official start of the turnover from the venerable T-34C Turbo Mentor to the T-6B for primary flight training under Training Air Wing (TRAWING) 5. To mark the occasion, TRAWING-5 hosted a fly-in ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at the hangar, followed by a reception at the Joint Primary Air Training System (JPATS) building on the base.

The event featured a flyby of the new aircraft, arrival of the T-6Bs to the hangar, brief speeches, a cake cutting at the reception, and a demonstration of the T-6 simulators. Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, the Chief of Naval Air Training Command, served as the featured speaker.

"It is an excellent time to be involved in naval aviation," he stated. "These modern digital systems are unlike any other flown before and surpass anything here in the U.S. or other countries. Our naval and Marine Corps pilots will continue to be the best ever because of training in the T-6B."

TRAWING-5, NAS Whiting Field's major tenant command, provides primary flight training to nearly 60 percent of all Navy and Marine Corps aviators as well as to U. S. Coast Guard aviators, select Air Force pilots and flight students from Allied foreign countries. The T-34C training aircraft was implemented in 1977 and is aging. TRAWING-5 will continue receiving new aircraft at the rate of about one per week until the transition is completed in 2015. The training wing will have 156 of the new aircraft at that time. With the preponderance of new fleet aircraft utilizing digital technology, it was deemed vital to train with similar systems.

"As our students train to operate more sophisticated fleet aircraft, the more modern cockpit design of the T-6B will enable our students to receive their "Wings" and better transition to modern fleet aircraft," Col. Scott Walsh, TRAWING 5 commander said. "It is imperative that we position our students for success."

The T-6B is a faster, stronger, more efficient aircraft that features an enhanced cockpit design and avionics that make it a good first step in teaching students before they begin their fleet tours. The heads-up displays and digital readouts are an impressive improvement in technology from the T-34C.

Initially, the new aircraft will be used for training instructor pilots. Student pilots from Training Squadron 3 are expected to begin flying the new aircraft in April 2010. The new aircraft already has a fan in Lt. Cmdr. Dave Hoten, USCG, one of the instructors who will be training the instructor pilots for TRAWING-5.

Hoten was one of the two pilots who flew the aircraft for the ceremony and was excited to play such an important role in the ceremony.

"With the T-6B, there will no longer be a gap between primary training and stepping into a fleet aircraft. It is a lot of fun to fly, and the magnitude of the day was pretty amazing," he said. "It is incredible to be in on the ground floor of saying goodbye to a 30-year old proven aircraft."