14th FTW welcomes new trainer aircraft
By Maj. Ed Watson, 14th Flying Training Wing
/ Published October 13, 2006
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AETCNS) -- Col. Dave Gerber, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, formally welcomed the T-6A Texan II to the Columbus AFB fleet during an official ceremony here Oct. 12.
The T-6A is the first new airframe assigned here since the T-1 was added to the inventory in January 1996 and will eventually replace the T-37 Tweet, which has been used to train more than 10,000 pilots in the Mississippi skies since 1969.
In addition to many BLAZE Team members, Thursday's reception included members of the state legislature and other local dignitaries.
Preceding Colonel Gerber's official welcome, the crowd enjoyed a T-6 heritage flight and composite formation.
Following the fly by, Colonel Gerber said that, although the T-37 Tweet would be missed "it is time for a change and ... we have come together to celebrate this advancement in technology and training."
The T-6 Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer.
"The state-of-the-art, glass cockpit and superb avionics will dramatically upgrade the quality of primary flight training and will better prepare our students for the advanced phases of pilot training in the T-1A Jayhawk and the upgraded T-38C Talon," Colonel Gerber said.
The improved fuel efficiency will also help the Air Force conserve resources, he said.
"The T-6 can fly twice the range of the T-37 while using half the fuel and the T-6 performs better in crosswinds allowing us to fly on days the T-37 would not (because of windy weather)," Colonel Gerber said.
While Columbus AFB's transition from T-37 to T-6 has proved smooth thus far, it is certainly not over. It will likely take another 18 months to fully incorporate the more than 100 T-6 aircraft.
"For almost two years, Columbus AFB has been actively preparing for the arrival of the T-6 Texan II," the commander said. "It started with the appointment of a T-6 transition team. Under the fine leadership of Maj. Phil Stoll and Capts. Pete Thern and Jason Barlow, this team has diligently worked all the details to make this change a reality for the BLAZE Team."
Second Lt. Dave Russell will get a close view of that reality. As a member of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 08-02, he will be one of the first students to train with the T-6 II.
"I was really impressed with the T-6," the Montpelier, Vt., native said. "For me, it's a real honor and I'm proud to have the opportunity to fly the new aircraft."