Tom's Aircraft

T-28 Trojan

With a tear in his eye, Tom left Annapolis and headed for Pensacola. After six weeks of groundschool, swim tests, obstacle courses and sunbathing, he began flight training in the T-28 Trojan. Remember that nasty little puddlejumper Tom flew at the Academy? Hah. This is a real airplane. 1425 horsepower, 300 knots, and older than Tom. Yee-hah!

T-28 Trojan

The Navy used to start pilots off in something more reasonable, but they'd gotten too old (!) and were retired. Tom and his classmates were the guinea pigs: could a novice fly one of these monsters? Apparently.

S-2 on a carrier deck

Speaking of old aircraft. . .now it was time for multi-engine training. This relic was basically two T-28s in close formation. It flew pretty well on both engines, not so well on one.

P-3 Orion

OK, now we're getting somewhere. Tom got his wings and moved to Jacksonville, Florida to train in the P-3C Orion. Basically an old airliner, the Lockheed Electra, it was modified to detect (and sink) submarines.

P-3 pilot's seat

Here's the only good seat in the airplane.

Co-pilot's seat

This seat is acceptable for a brief period until a pilot's true worth is recognized. After a few years in a fleet squadron, Tom returned to Jax to sit in the right seat as an Instructor Pilot.

Box lunch

A P-3 crew would launch over open ocean and patrol for enemy submarines, typically spending eight hours or more in flight. This gourmet repast provided by the government kept the men energized and alert. Notice the striking similarity to a White House formal dinner plate.

P-3 in the fog

A bad day for flying.

P-3 in the snow
A worse day for flying.

P-3 in the sun

This is when the senior guys go flying.