Wichita Falls_Some pilots took an old friend out for what may be a last spin. Instructors at Sheppard Air Force Base suited up for one more "4-Ship Training Sortie" of the T-37 Jet Trainer. The first trainer flew into Wichita Falls in 1966 and after 41 years, it will soon be gone. Sheppard needs to make room for the new T-6 Primary Trainer - it's a little more up to date for the modern airman.
With these new trainers coming, the instructors have to leave to train on them, so they wanted one more flight together. Flying the old trainers was more than just a common occupation. "It's kind of a bond across generations - that brings us together," said Major Jeff Grayson.
Grayson is just one of the eleven pilot instructors at Sheppard to have over 3,000 hours of flying time in the old T-37, or Tweet Training Jet. And, that's why Grayson called them together for this final flight. "It's very rare to actually get all the older instructors in a formation," he said. And, combined, the eight men flying have invested over 27,000 hours of flight time in these jets.
The Tweet has been in service to the Air Force since 1956 and every flyer in the force has a piece of this plane - it's where every pilot gets training. "Everyone who has their Air Force Pilot Wings from the last 50 years," said Grayson. The pilots of the 97th Training Squadron all reserve pilots - they love these Air Force planes so much that they came back just to fly them. And, out of the 141 trainers at Sheppard, these pilots will never forget this old friend
The first new T-6 Primary Trainer arrives at Sheppard in January 2008 and they will begin flying them in March.
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