On July 20, the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School welcomed nine fixed-wing students from Class 159, the incoming class that will graduate next summer. Prior to their arrival, the nine pilots were scheduled to receive training in the T-38C Talon two-seat jet trainer at Randolph Air Force Base and the T-6B Texan II primary trainer at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, but those training activities had been suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, the USNTPS Fixed Wing department worked with the school’s Operations and Safety departments, the Chief Flight Instructor and T-38C Aircraft Monitor, NASA’s T-38C Program Manager, and multiple Air Force instructor pilots to develop a T-38C qualification syllabus. The new syllabus incorporates the same training flow and materials the students would have otherwise received, except that students will now be taking simulator training at NASA’s T-38N simulators at Ellington Field in Texas.
The pre-arrival syllabus is a big part of our risk mitigation strategy for students flying USNTPS aircraft, specifically for the T-38C. The T-38C is challenging to fly and requires constant attention in key phases of flight, such as the landing pattern. The new qualification syllabus demonstrates USNTPS’ commitment to maintaining its proficiency and safety standards while also responding flexibly to the demands of the times.