Navy Flight Training: The Way It Was…

 

T-28B Trojan.

I started Navy pilot flight training in the summer of 1977 when the advertised time for a jet pilot to earn their wings was 18 months. Few actually completed their training that quickly due to weather and the aging fleet of training aircraft which made them a challenge to keep flying. In 1975 the Navy had begun transitioning to the new T‑34C Turbo Mentor but mechanical problems had delayed a full switchover and some squadrons were still flying the T-28 B/C, an aircraft whose first flight was in late 1949! Despite its age, it was a magnificent machine and fun to fly. It was a lot of plane for someone who’d never flown before but once you mastered its high power, it was solidly predictable.

T-45A Goshawk.

My first stop was Pensacola, Florida where I completed survival school. (Water immersion and helo splashdown training!) In August, new orders sent me to Whiting Field Naval Air Station, north of Pensacola for Primary Flight Training where I would be flying the radial engine-powered T‑28B Trojan. Its nine-cylinder Wright R-1820-86 engine and three-bladed propeller developed an eye-watering 1,425 horsepower!

Like all flight training, you started with ground school and emergency procedure training in a basic cockpit mock-up that looked and felt like the Trojan’s cockpit – all the dummy switches and gauges matched those in the aircraft and were positioned the same.

T-28C cockpit.

Finally in mid-September, I had my first flight and was definitely impressed. It was a far cry from the Cessnas and Pipers I’d flown with my dad. Though it was designed in the late 1940s as a replacement for the AT-6, the Trojan was still a powerful, heavy-duty acrobatic workhorse able to climb at over 3,000 feet-per-minute at full takeoff weight of 8,500 pounds. A joy to fly, the next two months passed too quickly and soon I had the 35 hours and necessary grades for selection to jet training. I quickly said goodbye to my roommate who had succeeded in getting his first choice – helos – and would remain at Whiting Field.

T-28C Trojan.

There are three flight training pipelines for Navy/Marine pilots. Each pipeline was unique, training students to fly either jets, helicopters, or props. Students in the “propeller/props” pipeline graduated to fly multi-engine turboprops like the four-engine land-based P-3 Orion Antisubmarine hunter (replaced in 2013 by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon variant of the 737) or the carrier-based E-2C Hawkeye (radar early-warning) and C-2 Greyhound Cargo aircraft (Carrier-Onboard-Delivery = “COD”). Marines had two pipelines: helos or jets. Marine C‑130 Hercules pilots actually went through the jet pipeline and could also be selected to fly the F-4 Phantom, the A-4 Skyhawk, or the AV-8 Harrier.

P-3B Orion.

E-2C Hawkeye.

C2 Greyhound.

Whiting Field Naval Air Station (NAS) had three categories of flight students. There were pre-selection Primary students (like me), and the post-selection helo and prop students. The pre-selection first phase required 35 hours in the T‑28 Trojan doing landings, spins, and two solo flights. During that time, the Navy tried to determine which of the three pipelines would be the best fit. The needs of the service (where did they need pilots) didn’t always align with the desires of the student. If you were selected for jets, you immediately moved to one of the three jet training bases (Kingsville or Beeville, TX, or Meridian, MS). Those selected for helos or props remained at Whiting Field.

TH-57 Sea Ranger.

The helo students moved over to the helo training squadron to fly the Bell TH-57 Sea Ranger. Those selected for multi-engine props stayed in the T-28 and flew some additional formation flights and completed their instrument training before transferring to another base where they learned to fly their multi-engine fleet aircraft.

When I was in training, there was a push for more jet students. It was a couple of years after the end of the Vietnam war after which there had been a large “Reduction In Force” (RIF) that caused many pilots to be separated from the service. In typical government fashion, somebody suddenly realized that they still needed pilots.

My October orders read “Report immediately to Squadron VT-23 in Kingsville, Texas (southwest of Corpus Christi), to commence Basic Jet Training (in the T-2C Buckeye).” I packed everything I owned into my 1976 Mercury Capri II hatchback with a 2.8L V-6 and 4-speed manual transmission and headed west on I-10, arriving two days later at Naval Air Station Kingsville. I dumped my bags at the Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ) and checked into the squadron. There were jets flying everywhere. I couldn’t wait to get started!

But I would wait after all. After a month of ground school and recovering from having three of my four wisdom teeth pulled, I finally flew on December 14. It wasn’t a syllabus flight for me, but a “morale” flight (to keep me motivated). I was in an instructor’s back seat on a night flight as the airborne safety pilot for students flying their solo night navigation flights. I had a second backseat ride on a formation training flight in February before finally starting my own training in March.

T-2C Buckeye.

The Buckeye was the first jet flown by every future jet pilot (until it was replaced by the T-45A Goshawk in the late 1990s). It had a straight wing and two small jet engines for reliability and ease of flying. Its handling was predictable while still exposing students to the challenges of the higher airspeeds and maneuverability of jet aircraft.

It was designed as a trainer. Its low-mounted engines meant that when you add power the nose pitches up (or “down” when you pull power). But when “flying the ball” for a carrier-style landing, or flying formation, you don’t want the nose pitching up and down with power changes. A change in nose angle (of pitch) also changes the orientation of the tailhook to the main landing gear. When the nose goes up, the tail goes down. The hook is attached under the tail so it goes down too.

Worst case; if the nose pitches up just before touchdown, the hook goes lower and you could snag the wire before the main gear touch, causing a very hard landing. So T-2 pilots learned to coordinate the stick and the power. When you added power you pushed slightly on the stick. When you pulled power, you pulled back slightly. That’s how you kept the nose angle constant. And in formation, you had to use the same technique to maintain position on the lead aircraft.

This habit had to be unlearned when you graduated to the TA-4J Skyhawk with its centerline thrust angle. And most of the fleet aircraft were the same, with the possible exception of the S-3 Viking with its engines under the wings.

Bottom line: It was a good transition jet trainer. When a student had mastered its challenges, including his first carrier landings, he was ready to fly the TA-4J Skyhawk, a swept-wing, single-engine trainer based on the single-seat ground-attack A-4 Skyhawk. Between March and August of 1978, I flew 98 hours and made my first four carrier landings, qualifying to continue into the Advanced Jet Training syllabus which at that time was flying the TA-4J two-seat Skyhawk. Today’s jet students do all their jet flying in the T-45C Goshawk.

TA-4J Skyhawk.

T-45A Goshawk Trainer.

My first three TA-4J flights were just one month later but it required another year to complete the next 200 hours and six carrier landings required to earn my Naval Aviator gold wings. The week that I graduated, only one other student earned his wings. And there was only one “Fleet seat” available – to fly the F-14 Tomcat.

Normally the best grade and/or recommendations of the instructors would determine who received the highly-desirable Tomcat orders. But due to my desire to fly the A-7E Corsair, the only single-pilot jet aircraft then flown by the Navy, I agreed to let the other guy take the Tomcat orders. In exchange, I had to fly another 15 months as an instructor in the Training Command (a “Selectively Retained Graduate” – SERGRAD. Did I mention they were short of pilots?) with the promise of guaranteed orders to an A-7 squadron afterward.

I managed to stay out of trouble (mostly) for the next 15 months and as promised, upon completion of my instructor tour, I received orders to my first choice, NAS Cecil Field in Jacksonville, FL, to fly the aircraft I most wanted – the air-to-ground daytime light attack mission A-7E Corsair II. It would prove to be a great aircraft to fly in peacetime when no one was shooting at you. Its single engine turned out to be less dependable than I’d hoped, requiring me to eject one night from an otherwise perfectly good aircraft whose only fault was a failed engine that refused to restart! (See my Silken Letdown story.)

It had been a long but rewarding road. In my A-7 squadron, I would finally put all that time and training Uncle Sam had provided to good use. Not surprisingly, when my A-7 tour ended, they still needed training command instructors. By this time I’d met my future wife and was looking forward to being stationed in a squadron that didn’t deploy six months out of 18. I received orders to the “Fighting Frogs” of VT-19 at Naval Air Station Meridian, MS, where I would instruct in all phases of the T-2C Buckeye and make many lifelong friends.

Side Note: You might be surprised to learn that I had more close calls and near misses in Meridian than during my three years flying the A-7. Training is dangerous. Since the beginning of military aviation, we lose more pilots to training accidents than to combat. This article in Audacy.com details the number of active-duty military deaths from 2006 to 2020 and twice as many died in accidents (5,605) as in action (2,729). This is a sobering statistic and despite over two decades of “study,” the trend continues to this day. No one is shooting at you but the training environment can go from routine to “Oh [expletive]!” in a millisecond. Military flight training is just one of many dangerous occupations where a moment’s inattention or someone else’s mistake can kill you.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Max Knots: the training environment can go from routine to “Oh [expletive]!” in a millisecond.

    In submarine school, we learned the old adage that submarine service was hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer panic.

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I always take a look at your articles to see what I missed.

    In 1958 as an NROTC Midshipman between my freshman and sophomore years at Georgia Tech,  I had the good fortune to take a summer cruise on the ASW USS Valley Forge CVS-45. We were originally scheduled for what sounded like a fun time, almost like a leisurely summer cruise, with port stops in New York and then down the St. Lawrence Seaway to Quebec City. It started out fine, we hit New York City and that was quite a visit for a 19-year old Southern boy, but then something  called the Lebanese Crisis happened in the Mediterranean.

    We turned around and went back to Norfolk, Va. for ammunition and preparation to operate on alert for ASW service if necessary. We did get in a visit to the Little Creek training center while there. Then we spent the entire remainder of the cruise conducting ASW maneuvers in the Atlantic. We were called a Task Group with the Happy Valley, eight destroyers and two submarines. Admiral Thach was our Task Force Commander and was on board. We had a couple of AD’s, maybe 3 S2F’s, and a bunch of helicopters. The engines on those AD’s were impressive.

    Personal circumstances caused my withdrawal from the NROTC program after one more academic year and changed the course of my life, for the good, I’m confident since had I gone on to flight training I would have been just in time for Vietnam.

     

    • #2
  3. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Great story Max as was Bob’s comment.  I thought pre-flight was 6  months; you got your wings and then went into the pipeline for another six months.  Fighter guys went to Mississippi. Can’t remember where the A-6 and A-7 training was;  assume California. Guess it was more intense than I thought. Dad’s training in Pensacola in 42-43 was 9 months but obviously no jets then.  And the comment about training accidents has been true for decades. Dad lost two of his Marine training pals in Pensacola Bay.  Where he wanted his ashes to go. Mission accomplished in 2018.  I am sure mine will join up with the sea snakes. 

    • #3
  4. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    Didn’t the A-7 use a variant of the same engine used in the F-14 and F-111?  Everything that I’ve read about it indicates it was problematic; leading to the loss of a lot of aircraft and crews.  It sounds like it got your plane and almost got you.

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Missed you, Max.

    • #5
  6. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Mentor pic labelled Goshawk.

    • #6
  7. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Stad (View Comment):

    Max Knots: the training environment can go from routine to “Oh [expletive]!” in a millisecond.

    In submarine school, we learned the old adage that submarine service was hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer panic.

    Like practicing obstetrics.

    • #7
  8. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Like all flight training, you started with ground school

    Not for me! Ground school has always been last. But I’m totally civilian.

    Regarding troops dying: at first I thought that big number was from aviation accidents. But the linked article doesn’t say that, nor should it. It is about military accidents of all kinds. It has a link to another article which, on the relatively limited subject of rotorcraft, doesn’t say much of anything at all. It is chiefly or entirely about mishap data collection, classification, and evaluation. For spreadsheet management? Maybe.

    • #8
  9. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler
    1.  I know it’s called the Buckeye, but I’ve never heard anyone call it anything except the Guppy.
    2. They must have thought you were quite the odd duck to prefer the A-7 over the F-14.  

     

    • #9
  10. JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery Thatcher
    JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery
    @JosePluma

    Max Knots: Side Note: You might be surprised to learn that I had more close calls and near misses in Meridian than during my three years flying the A-7. Training is dangerous. Since the beginning of military aviation, we lose more pilots to training accidents than to combat. This article in Audacy.com details the number of active-duty military deaths from 2006 to 2020 and twice as many died in accidents (5,605) as in action (2,729). This is a sobering statistic and despite over two decades of “study,” the trend continues to this day. No one is shooting at you but the training environment can go from routine to “Oh [expletive]!” in a millisecond. Military flight training is just one of many dangerous occupations where a moment’s inattention or someone else’s mistake can kill you.

    At the military junior college I went to, there is a memorial for the students and alumni who died in WWII.  A plurality died in flight training, far more than any other cause.

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Skyler (View Comment):

    1. I know it’s called the Buckeye, but I’ve never heard anyone call it anything except the Guppy.
    2. They must have thought you were quite the odd duck to prefer the A-7 over the F-14.

     

    My sub pulled into Roosevelt Roads Naval Base (AKA Rosy Roads) one day.  One of my fellow officers had a friend who was a pilot, and his air wing were there to practice bombing at Vieques Island.  We went to the hangar where some of the planes were located.  I got to see an F-14 up close and personal, and was surprised how large the thing was in real life.  However, the pilot friend flew the S-3 Viking, a sub hunter.  He gave us the tour of his jet, both inside and out.  He was constantly talking about how it was The Best Jet to fly in the Navy.  I got the impression every pilot loves the plane he flies . . .

    • #11
  12. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Stad (View Comment):
    He was constantly talking about how it was The Best Jet to fly in the Navy.  I got the impression every pilot loves the plane he flies . . .

    Every pilot thinks his aircraft is the best ever.  I’ve never seen an exception.

    • #12
  13. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Max Knots: Side Note: You might be surprised to learn that I had more close calls and near misses in Meridian than during my three years flying the A-7. Training is dangerous. Since the beginning of military aviation, we lose more pilots to training accidents than to combat. This article in Audacy.com details the number of active-duty military deaths from 2006 to 2020 and twice as many died in accidents (5,605) as in action (2,729). This is a sobering statistic and despite over two decades of “study,” the trend continues to this day. No one is shooting at you but the training environment can go from routine to “Oh [expletive]!” in a millisecond. Military flight training is just one of many dangerous occupations where a moment’s inattention or someone else’s mistake can kill you.

    I used to point out that more military people died in accidents/training than in Afghanistan, too.  (As I recall, the deaths in Afghanistan were actually ZERO for several years.)  But that doesn’t stop people from thinking we had to get out because it was so “dangerous.”

    • #13
  14. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    Didn’t the A-7 use a variant of the same engine used in the F-14 and F-111? Everything that I’ve read about it indicates it was problematic; leading to the loss of a lot of aircraft and crews. It sounds like it got your plane and almost got you.

    Yes. Started with TF30 (11K thrust) but the “E” had the TF41 produced by Allison based on a Rolls-Royce engine, the “Spey” with just under 15K of thrust. It was more reliable than the TF30 but yes, single-engine failures were problematic!

    I read that the A-7 was originally designed around a different engine that would have put out closer to 20K of thrust but it had too many problems during development and was dropped. I’d love to hear from someone who knows the full story on that one!

    • #14
  15. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Percival (View Comment):

    Missed you, Max.

    Thanks Percival! Been busy in a good way. Staying healthy too. I have a couple more posts in development! :-)

    • #15
  16. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    @maxknots , what was it about the A-7 that made you want it so bad?

     

    • #16
  17. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    John H. (View Comment):

    Like all flight training, you started with ground school

    Not for me! Ground school has always been last. But I’m totally civilian.

    Regarding troops dying: at first I thought that big number was from aviation accidents. But the linked article doesn’t say that, nor should it. It is about military accidents of all kinds. It has a link to another article which, on the relatively limited subject of rotorcraft, doesn’t say much of anything at all. It is chiefly or entirely about mishap data collection, classification, and evaluation. For spreadsheet management? Maybe.

    You are correct. That article was for All military accidents in all branches of service. As a fixed wing pilot I am naturally superstitious about rotorcraft and all their moving parts but admit that when you’re bobbing in the middle of a dark wet ocean in the middle of the night, I was REALLY happy to see one of my buddies in the helo squadron show up with his rescue swimmer and hoist. Once on board, I simply closed my eyes and tried to ignore the vibrations from the rotors as we beat our way through the air back to the ship. (Just kidding!! I thought those guys were just braver than I was!)

    • #17
  18. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Skyler (View Comment):

    1. I know it’s called the Buckeye, but I’ve never heard anyone call it anything except the Guppy.
    2. They must have thought you were quite the odd duck to prefer the A-7 over the F-14.

     

    Yep: “Pregnant Guppy” based on its appearance. But it was honest and got the job done. Besides it wasn’t any uglier than the A-7 (SLUF – short little ugly [fellow]) and based on my choice of that aircraft, I was definitely not looking for a beautiful aircraft to fly. I liked the mission and the lack of a back seater. I realize that this was an immature and stupid reason to choose an aircraft, but I had several flight instructors who were A-7 jocks and had been impressed with their stories and the mission. Air-to-ground attacking was a fun mission – as long as no one was shooting at you!!

    • #18
  19. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery (View Comment):

    Max Knots: Side Note: You might be surprised to learn that I had more close calls and near misses in Meridian than during my three years flying the A-7. Training is dangerous. Since the beginning of military aviation, we lose more pilots to training accidents than to combat. This article in Audacy.com details the number of active-duty military deaths from 2006 to 2020 and twice as many died in accidents (5,605) as in action (2,729). This is a sobering statistic and despite over two decades of “study,” the trend continues to this day. No one is shooting at you but the training environment can go from routine to “Oh [expletive]!” in a millisecond. Military flight training is just one of many dangerous occupations where a moment’s inattention or someone else’s mistake can kill you.

    At the military junior college I went to, there is a memorial for the students and alumni who died in WWII. A plurality died in flight training, far more than any other cause.

    It is a surprising and sad statistic.

    • #19
  20. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    He was constantly talking about how it was The Best Jet to fly in the Navy. I got the impression every pilot loves the plane he flies . . .

    Every pilot thinks his aircraft is the best ever. I’ve never seen an exception.

    Actually, as much as I liked the A-7 for its mission, my favorite plane was the F/A-18C Hornet. By far… No contest. Mostly because it could turn on a dime and had what seemed like infinite excess power in comparison to the A-7 (though admittedly, that is a low starting point for a comparison!). See my “High Flight” post.

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its very nature wants to fly and, if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other and, if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.

    This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.

    — Harry Reasoner, helicopter pilot and news anchor

    • #21
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #23
  24. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Max Knots (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    He was constantly talking about how it was The Best Jet to fly in the Navy. I got the impression every pilot loves the plane he flies . . .

    Every pilot thinks his aircraft is the best ever. I’ve never seen an exception.

    Actually, as much as I liked the A-7 for its mission, my favorite plane was the F/A-18C Hornet. By far… No contest. Mostly because it could turn on a dime and had what seemed like infinite excess power in comparison to the A-7 (though admittedly, that is a low starting point for a comparison!). See my “High Flight” post.

    I was the maintenance/material control officer in VMA(AW)-242 and I transitioned the squadron from the A-6E to the F/A-18D (and the squadron’s renaming to VMFA(AW)-242.  I have no opinion on flying them but as a maintainer, all I can say is that my job got really boring when we picked up the hornet.  That’s good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. 

    The squadron recently transitioned to the F-35 and was renamed VMF-242.  I thought it was odd to get rid of those new F/A-18D’s, but someone caused me to count and they actually flew the Hornet two years more than they flew the Intruder. Time flies.

    • #24
  25. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Off-topic, but I have to share: saw, today, for the first time ever, how an airplane towing a banner picks it up! It does not have the thing attached to it before takeoff. Instead, the banner is laid on the grass alongside the runway, and the plane – trailing a hook – swoops low and snags it. I watched this from a helicopter hovering on the other side of the runway, and after I saw the operation, I silently thanked the airplane pilot for not requesting that I and everybody else just go away. Seems to me that helicopter downwash would complicate the process. It didn’t. The challenge was something else entirely. For unstated reasons the guy did two go-arounds first, but then he nailed it. He came in at just the right altitude, slowed to near-zero horizontal airspeed and pitched almost straight up, caught the banner, and flew off.  I was astonished. Had he stalled, recovery that close to the ground would have been impossible.

    I left it to my instructor to read what was on the banner. I myself could have seen it but I felt it paramount to fly our own ship. The banner said something with I LOVE in it. I sure hope the object of the affection was suitably impressed!

     

    • #25
  26. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    @ maxknots , what was it about the A-7 that made you want it so bad?

     

    The mission – breaking things. The A6 Intruder had the same mission but was designed for all-weather attacks with its massive radar (that’s why it has a large nose and side-by-side seating.) I think the home base (Jacksonville for A-7’s vs Norfolk for A6s) may also have influenced me. My grandparents were in Florida so it would let me see them, something we’d only managed once a year after they moved there from Michigan when I was young. The Tomcat was also out of the Oceana NAS in Virginia Beach. I hoped for Florida for many reasons, some of which hold up better than others with the passage of time…  :-)

    • #26
  27. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Percival (View Comment):

    The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its very nature wants to fly and, if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other and, if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.

    This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.

    — Harry Reasoner, helicopter pilot and news anchor

    Perfect!

    • #27
  28. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Percival (View Comment):

    I think they tried puting ejection seats on a chopper but it required that they blow off the main rotor first, which left the chopper in freefall until the blades were sufficiently clear for the seats to eject. I couldn’t find confirmation of this memory using a simple search, but did stumble across this article from the Hook magazine about a guy who survived an underwater ejection from an A7 that went over the side after a bad landing. Remarkable! 

    https://www.ejectionsite.com/eunderh2o.htm

     

    • #28
  29. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Max Knots (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    I think they tried puting ejection seats on a chopper but it required that they blow off the main rotor first, which left the chopper in freefall until the blades were sufficiently clear for the seats to eject. I couldn’t find confirmation of this memory using a simple search, but did stumble across this article from the Hook magazine about a guy who survived an underwater ejection from an A7 that went over the side after a bad landing. Remarkable!

    https://www.ejectionsite.com/eunderh2o.htm

     

    It was discussed, but if they blew off the blades of a helicopter in formation, where do the blades go? “Out” is a bad answer. It might hit another helicopter.

    • #29
  30. J Ro Member
    J Ro
    @JRo

    Max Knots:

    T-28B Trojan.

    In 1975 the Navy had begun transitioning to the new T‑34C Turbo Mentor but mechanical problems had delayed a full switchover and some squadrons were still flying the T-28 B/C, an aircraft whose first flight was in late 1949! Despite its age, it was a magnificent machine and fun to fly. It was a lot of plane for someone who’d never flown before but once you mastered its high power, it was solidly predictable.

    In August, new orders sent me to Whiting Field Naval Air Station, north of Pensacola for Primary Flight Training where I would be flying the radial engine-powered T‑28B Trojan. Its nine-cylinder Wright R-1820-86 engine and three-bladed propeller developed an eye-watering 1,425 horsepower!

    Nice one, Max!

    Proudest moment of my tour as a Navy guest student at USAF Air University: an Air Force classmate and I were admiring a vintage aircraft engine displayed in one of the auditorium lobbies. It was a Wright R-1820 engine from a B-17.

    Air Force pilot: “Wow! Can you imagine flying with an engine like that?”

    Naval Aviator with a big grin: “Imagine? My first trainer had one!”

    • #30
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