Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whiting Field bids farewell to T-34 Turbo Mentor today

The venerable T-34C Turbo Mentor made its final student training flight at Whiting Field Naval Air Station in Milton today, landing at about noon.

The final training flight included student 1st Lt. Sarah Horn and instructor Cmdr. John Hensel, the commanding officer of Training Squadron 2.

The T-34, which has been in service at Whiting Field since 1977, has been replaced by the more modern T-6B Texan II.

Training Squadron 2 — known as the “Doerbirds” — retired the T-34 today, marking the last unit at Whiting’s Training Air Wing 5 to cycle out of the old plane.

“From this day on, the Doerbirds will forever be known as the squadron that flew the T-34C into history here at Wing 5 and NAS Whiting Field,” said Col. James Grace, commander of Training Air Wing 5.

Whiting Field has been home to 400 T-34s over the years. Most of remaining crafts will be sent to Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, where the Navy continues to train with them.

“If only these planes could talk and tell us about the thousands of aviators who took their first flight in the T-34C,” Grace said. “The anxiety, fear, fright and excitement. The total joy of that first solo flight or being absolutely sick to their stomach from air sickness. The highs, the lows, the dreams realized and the dreams taken away. The first loop, first spin, first takeoff and first landing.”

An estimated 22,600 students have trained on the T-34 at Whiting Field, completing more than 2.8 million hours of flight.

No comments:

Post a Comment