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Navy trainers seek refuge in San Angelo

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dorian Chapman
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
Twenty three T-34C Turbo Mentor aircraft left Naval Air Station Corpus Christi Tuesday seeking refuge at San Angelo Regional Airport Mathis Field. They were fleeing from Hurricane Dolly, the first hurricane of the year, swirling in the Gulf of Mexico. The aircraft are assigned to Training Squadron TWENTY-EIGHT, one of four training squadrons which comprise Training Wing FOUR at the station.

Navy Cmdr. Brian A. Hoyt, commander of Training Squadron TWENTY-EIGHT, flew one of the aircraft during the one-hour, 45-minute flight. According to the commander, the T-34Cs are the primary flight trainer for the both the Navy and the Marine Corps.

"Hurricane Dolly was forecast to hit the Gulf coast," Commander Hoyt said. "There is not enough hangar space for all the aircraft," he added, explaining why the airplanes were moved to San Angelo.

Commander Hoyt said the ultimate decision to move the planes fell on Navy Capt. Dave Price, commander of Training Wing FOUR. According to Commander Hoyt, Captain Price waited as long as reasonably possible before moving the aircraft and based his decision on the growing severity of the storm.

"It's a balance," Commander Hoyt explained. "On one hand you have the safety of the aircraft and on the other you have training stoppage and the cost to come up here."

Commander Hoyt said the twenty-three pilots who flew the T-34Cs to San Angelo are all instructor pilots and, though weather conditions would not permit flying training, instrument training could have been conducted.

Ultimately, good stewardship of taxpayers' dollars dictated that the aircraft should be moved to prevent the possibility of damage from hurricane conditions.

A memorandum of agreement was signed June 1 granting NAS Corpus Christi permission to use San Angelo's airport as a refuge in just such an emergency, Commander Hoyt said.

"The reception we've received from both the San Angelo airport and Goodfellow Air Force Base has been the red carpet treatment," Commander Hoyt said, expressing his intentions to recommend renewing the agreement.

"In the Training Command, the first priority is always safe mission completion," Commander Hoyt said.