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Naval aviation has evolved dynamically since 1910 when Eugene Ely made the first successful takeoff in an aircraft from a Navy vessel. Today, Naval Air Training Command’s squadrons log more than 400,000 flight hours annually in seven types of training aircraft comprising more than 750 airplanes. Each year, more than 1,800 pilots and naval flight officers pin on their “Wings of Gold.”
The responsibility for training all prospective Navy pilots, naval flight officers and enlisted aircrew members falls on the shoulders of the Chief of Naval Training, whose headquarters, Naval Air Training Command, is located at NAS Corpus Christi.
In addition, the Naval Air Training Command provides training for aircrew members from the Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as several foreign countries through the Foreign Military Sales program.
The Command is composed of five Training Air Wings located on five Naval Air Stations in Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The five wings are home to 16 training squadrons. In addition, joint training is conducted with the Air Force on bases in Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia. It also manages the Naval Aviation Schools Command, the Blue Angels, and the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
Two of the Training Air Wings are located in South Texas: (1) Training Air Wing Four which is located at NAS Corpus Christi and is responsible for providing basic flight training for Navy, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard aviators in single engine aircraft and intermediate and advanced flight training in multi-engine aircraft; and (2) Training Air Wing Two, at NAS Kingsville, which provides undergraduate jet pilot training.
Training Air Wing Four has been training the world’s premier Navy pilots for more than 30 years. Located at Corpus Christi, it enjoys an ideal environment for training... warm year round weather with lots of wide-open space.
Established in March, 1972, it is composed of four flying squadrons with a combined strength of 800 officers and enlisted personnel and more than 180 aircraft and simulators.
Four units making up the Wing include Training Squadrons Twenty-Seven (VT-27), Twenty-Eight (VT-28), Thirty-One (VT-31), and Thirty-Five (VT-35). Training Air Wing Four also has a Reserve Component composed of squadron augment units (SAU) assigned to each squadron.
Student aviators receive basic flight training in VT-27 and VT-28 flying T-34C “Turbo Mentor” aircraft. VT-31 and VT-35 provide intermediate and advanced flight training using multi-engine aircraft —- the T-44A “Pegasus” and the TC-12 “Huron,” respectively.
Training Squadron Twenty-Seven was initially established on July 11, 1951, as Advanced Training Unit-B at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. The command moved to Naval Air Station Kingsville in 1952 and again to Naval Air Station, New Iberia, Louisiana in 1960. It was there the squadron was redesignated as VT-27. In July 1964, the “Boomers” returned to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi where they continue to be an important member of the community.
In 1973, the squadron began a transition to the role of primary training squadron with the arrival, on Aug. 1, of the first “T-28” Trojan. By Oct. 1, 1973, the last TS-2A had departed, signifying the end of the advanced training role and the completion of the transition to primary training. In August 1983, the squadron took delivery of the first “T-34C” Mentor aircraft. Since March 1984, when the last T-28 ever used for naval flight training departed, the T-34C has been the mainstay of the Navy and Marine Corps primary flight training.
The “Boomers” average more than 11,000 training missions a year, and more than 70 sorties per training day. Since taking delivery of the T-34C, its safety record sets the standard for excellence in Navy Air Training Command.
Expected to achieve high levels of production while maintaining the highest standards of safety demanded, VT-27 consistently accomplishes its important mission - by producing Navy and Marine Corps pilots of the highest quality for our nation’s defense.
Training Squadron Twenty-Eight was commissioned on May 1, 1960 under the leadership of Commanding Officer, Commander O. T. Knight. Prior to that, it operated as Advanced Training Unit 611. The primary mission of VT-28 was advanced multi-engine flight training for Student Naval Aviators (SNA’s). More than 6,000 Naval Aviators have been trained by VT-28 before assignment to fixed wing, multi-engine squadrons. This curriculum has evolved over the years in response to the changing need to the Navy and advances in aviation technology.
VT-28 quickly established a standard of excellence which has continued unabated for 35 years. With 44 instructors, 48 TS-2F “Tracker” aircraft, 400 enlisted personnel and an average on board student count of 125, VT-28 set new training, safety, and cost efficiency records in its first 10 months of operation. During the 1960’s, as the demand for fixed wing maritime pilots increased, so did the scope and responsibility of the squadron,
By the mid-’60s, the flight syllabus, augmented by simultaneous ground training, had expanded to include Familiarization, Basic and Radio Instrument Navigation, Cross County, Night Familiarization and Carrier Qualification. The TS-2F “Tracker” proved itself a most reliable and stable training platform during periods of changes in the syllabus and increased requirements. In 1969 alone, nearly 300 Naval Aviators were designated and 40,000 aircraft hours flown by VT-28. The squadron carrier qualified or “CQ’d” thousands of Student Naval Aviators in the “Tracker” until its retirement in 1979 when it was replaced by the T-44A on March 1st of that year.
The squadron continued to train Advanced Maritime Student Naval Aviators in the T-44A aircraft until 1990, when CNATRA directed the squadron to change its mission and become the first Instructor Training Squadron. VT-28 then assumed the responsibility for instructor training within Training Air Wing Four as well as Instructor Standardization, Functional Check Flights, and course curriculum oversight in both the T-34C and the T-44A aircraft.
On April 1, 1993, VT-28’s mission changed once again; this time to provide Primary/Intermediate Maritime and Helicopter instruction to
Student Naval Aviators while flying the T-34C. In the first months as CNATRA’s fifth Primary Squadron, VT-28 continued to set the standard
for training excellence, flying more than 20,230 mishap free flight hours and graduating more than 200 primary students and more than 100 intermediate students.
With the mission change, a new squadron patch was designed. The new patch depicts the silhouette of a Texas Ranger mounted on a rearing horse. Flying over the Ranger is an aircraft leaving a patriotic contrail. This patch symbolizes the proud tradition of VT-28’s nickname and radio call sign, “Ranger,” as well as the pride the squadron possesses for its new mission and its country.
The primary aircraft flown by both Squadron Twenty-Seven and Squadron Twenty-Eight is the T-34C “Turbo Mentor.” Developed in the 1950’s as a primary trainer for both the United States Navy and Air Force, the T-34 is used to instruct student pilots in basic flying skills. The original aircraft was designated as the T-34B and was used from 1955 to 1976. In 1978, the turbo-prop version of the T-34 entered service with the Navy.
Built by Beechcraft Inc., the T-34C “Turbo Mentor” utilizes a turbo-prop engine manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of Canada (Model PT6A-25) large turbo-prop engine combined with a light airframe to produce flying qualities similar to, but safer than, those of military jet aircraft. The T-34 is an unpressurized, two-place tandem cockpit aircraft. It is used as the primary stage training aircraft for all Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard pilots as well as pilots from numerous other foreign countries.
Training Squadron Thirty-One began training Student Naval Aviators in February 1958 as Advanced Training Unit 601. The unit, assigned to NAS Corpus Christi, flew the Beechcraft SNB multi-engine aircraft as an instrument and navigation trainer.
Commissioned as VT-31 on 1 May 1960, the squadron’s scope of training was expanded and a new aircraft, the P2V “Neptune,” replaced the aging SNB’s. In January 1961, VT-31 continued its expansion when the first P5M “Marlin” was accepted for the advanced training syllabus.
In 1963, another reorganization of advanced training found VT-31 transitioning to the TS-2A “Tracker,” an aircraft the squadron would use
for the next 15 years. The “Stoof,” as it was called, was used in all facets of advanced multi-engine training which included carrier qualifications
for naval aviators.
VT-31’s transition to the Beechcraft T-44A began in spring of 1977, and on Feb. 8, 1979, the last TS-2A departed the squadron. In addition to the T-44A aircraft, students also receive instruction in fully computerized synthetic trainers. These devices are able to simulate virtually any instrument flying condition and allow students to fly numerous instrument approaches. The trainer can be “frozen” during any phase of the flight to discuss mistakes or replay a portion of an instrument approach.
In 1996, VT-31’s aircraft fleet began to grow. The established and successful USAF joint training program resulted in VT-31 being tasked to train all Air Force C-130 students. With the number of students almost doubling, the need for more aircraft became apparent. Since the T-44A is no longer in production, the UC-12B was chosen to support the current fleet of T-44A aircraft. The UC-12B designation was changed to TC-12B and its primary mission was changed from cargo to training student Military Aviators.
VT-31’s sister squadron, VT-35 was commissioned in October of 1999 to fly the TC-12B aircraft. VT-31’s command size was reduced by approximately one third and the aircraft fleet returned to solely the T-44A.
VT-31 is one of four aviation training squadrons attached to Training Air Wing Four and is one of two advanced multi-engine training squadrons in the Navy. The squadron has historically trained students from the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and foreign students in all phases of advanced multi-engine flight procedures to include Aircraft Familiarization, Radio Instruments, Airways Navigation, Visual Navigation and Formation flying. After receiving their “Wings of Gold” or “Silver,” the newly designated Military Aviators will head to their particular aircraft, usually a P-3C Orion (Navy), C-130 Hercules (Marine, Coast Guard and Air Force) or HU25 Falcon (Coast Guard).
VT-31 carries a staff composed of approximately 69 officers and 19 enlisted. The squadron utilizes Beechcraft contract maintenance which employs a totally civilian maintenance force. The squadron’s primary mission continues to be training the finest Military Aviators in the world.
The primary aircraft flown by Air Training Squadron Thirty-One is the T-44 “Pegasus.” The T-44A is the military version of the popular Beechcraft King Air 90 and is equipped with a full range of avionics equipment for instrument conditions including a weather radar and RNAV. Students, as well as instructors, appreciate the fully pressurized and air conditioned cabin which provides an ideal learning environment.
The aircraft is used for advanced turboprop aircraft training and for intermediate E2/C2 (carrier based turboprop radar aircraft) training. It’s equipped with de-icing and anti-icing systems augmented by instrumentation and navigation equipment which allows flight under instrument and icing conditions.
The interior includes a seating arrangement for an instructor pilot (right seat), a student pilot (left seat), and a second student. Two additional passenger seats are included. A distinguishing feature of the aircraft is the avionics fault insertion capabilities afforded the instructor pilot from the right-seat armrest and the second student/observer audio control panel that allows the second student to monitor all radio communications. The T-44A is powered by two 550 shaft horsepower PT6A-34B turboprop engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney.
Training Squadron Thirty-Five (VT-35) is one of two advanced multi-engine training squadrons in the Navy. Student military aviators selected to fly the C-130 (USAF) and P-3 (USN) aircraft, report to VT-35 for training focused on asymmetrical thrust and instrument flight, and are awarded their pilot wings upon graduation. The squadron also provides fixed wing multi-engine transition training to U. S. Navy test pilot candidates from the helicopter community.
The squadron flies nearly 14,000 hours annually, with more than 43,000 landings and nearly 6,500 student flight training events. It is the only advanced joint leadership (USN and USAF) flight training squadron in the military.
Training Squadron-35 was established Oct. 29, 1999, under the leadership of an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel - the first time that a Navy command was established under the leadership of a US Air Force commanding officer.
In its first three years of existence, the command reached the pinnacle of the Naval Air Training Command recognition: VT-35 was named Calendar Year 2000 recipient of the CNATRA award for Training Excellence as well as the 2000 recipient of the VADM Goldthwaite Award for Training Excellence. The squadron exceeded all expectations in its first two years of existence, increasing pilot production by 20 percent for two consecutive years. In addition, VT-35 received the 2001 CNO Aviation Safety Award.
Training Squadron-35 consists of 12 Navy instructor pilots, 12 Air Force instructor pilots, one Marine Corps instructor pilot, three Air Force enlisted personnel, and two Government Service civilians. The squadron’s administrative tasks are performed under contract by six civilian employees of SysTeam Corporation. Maintenance of the squadron’s TC-12B “Hurons” is performed by 52 maintenance personnel under contract by Raytheon Aerospace Corporation.
The “Stingray Spirit” is evident in the squadron’s proud sponsorship of the Pilot for a Day program. The “Stingrays” initiated this program in September 2001, which helps youngsters who are afflicted with catastrophic illnesses and are patients at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. The program provides these youngsters with an opportunity to spend the day visiting many of the Naval Air Station squadrons and facilities, experiencing a day in the life of a military aviator. For its outstanding community support, VT-35’s Pilot for a Day program received the 2002 CNO Project Good Neighbor Community Service Flagship Award.
VT-35 is the squadron of choice for those who are anticipating orders to the Naval Air Training Command. The “Stinging Stingrays” of VT-35
are committed to training the “World’s Premier Military Aviators” while making significant contributions to the Naval Training Command and the
Primary aircraft flown by Training Squadron Thirty-Five is the TC-12 “Huron,” a twin engine trainer powered by two 850 shaft horsepower PT6A-41 turboprop engines manufactured by Pratt and Whiney. This engine is a reverse flow, free turbine type, employing a three stage axial and a single stage centrifugal compressor assembled as an integral unit.
Primary control instruments are the Attitude Indicator and the Horizontal Situational Indicator. Basic airspeed indicators, altimeters, and vertical speed indicators surround the ADI and HSI. The communications group is comprised of an interphone system connected to a VHF and a UHF radio. The navigation suite is made up of 2 VOR’s, an ADF, and a TACA.
Corpus Christi increased its role in mine warfare in June 1996 when Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 (HM-15) moved to NAS Corpus Christi. Equipped with MH-53E “Sea Dragon” helicopters, HM-15 became the first operational unit to be co-located with Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command and the Mine Warfare Center of Excellence. HM-15’s massive helicopters search the seas for mines towing the most advanced minesweeping packages available.
But missions for this helicopter unit are not limited to minesweeping operations. In 2006 the unit received the prestigious Frederick Feinberg Award for its humanitarian assistance in support of tsunami relief operations in Northern Indonesia, hurricane relief operations in Texas and Louisiana, and earthquake relief operations in Pakistan.
In August 2007, the HM-15 “Blackhawks” also responded to Hurricane Felix in Nicaragua. Operating from the USS Wasp, “Blackhawk” crews delivered 220,000 pounds of supplies, transported 470 evacuees, and flew 83 sorties totaling 145 flight hours - all in four days.
The men and women of HM-15 have proven time and time again that they are up to any challenges that are placed in front of them. It is
their dedication and professionalism that have made the “Blackhawks” such an invaluable asset to the United States Navy and the City
of Corpus Christi.
The Commander, Mine Warfare Command, has realigned and merged with the Anti-Submarine Warfare Command headquartered at Point Loma, San Diego and is now known as Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC). NMAWC is the primary command through which issues related to mine warfare and integrated anti-submarine are coordinated with tactical development agencies or commands.
The Vice Commander, based at NAS Corpus Christi NMAWC Corpus Christi continues to focus on Mine Warfare (MIW) matters and functions as the flag officer commanding the deployable mine warfare battle staff, providing technical advice, and conducting mine warfare operations as required.
The Vice Commander also coordinates the sourcing for the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Squadrons and adheres to the “triad” concept of mine countermeasures which includes airborne, surface, and underwater assets able to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world. Incorporating new technology and innovative thinking, its mission is to meet the challenge to carry out critical mine warfare missions in an increasingly hostile global maritime environment.
Since people are its most important asset, NMAWC Corpus Christi continually improves training, tactics, threat awareness, and support services, in order to provide the best trained mine warfare force in the world. As a result, it stands ready to provide combat ready Mine Warfare naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, preserving freedom of the seas and promoting peace and security. This preparedness has led to the Command motto: “Where the fleet goes, we’ve already been.”
Fleet Readiness Center Site Corpus Christi provides flight line support and assistance for HM-15 and their aircraft.
It provides repair, manufacture, test and check of aircraft components, associated support equipment and related Airborne Mine Countermeasure equipment. Its mission emphasizes a clear focus on the supported activity’s mission. It’s dedicated to quality repairs and the fastest component turn around time possible.
Fleet Readiness Center is not only dedicated to the success of HM-15, but also we recognize the need for “giving back to the community.” On-going community projects include Corpus Christi Food Bank volunteering, Habitat for Humanity, Adopt-a-School, and Operation Paintbrush Programs, coaching sports teams for youth, road side clean-up projects, and others.
With more than 3,800 employees, the Corpus Christi Army Depot is the largest facility of its type in the world and is the cornerstone of military aviation readiness. As a depot training base for active duty Army, National Guard, Reserve and foreign military personnel, it is also the largest tenant command on NAS Corpus Christi.
Its mission is to ensure aviation readiness for all service and foreign military sales programs. In August 2001, the Army depot was designated a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for rotary wing aircraft (less avionics). Its depot field teams provide worldwide on-site maintenance services for units around the world, saving time and money by repairing aircraft engines and components on-site rather than having them transported to/from the depot for repair.
Corpus Christi Army Depot provides overhaul, repair, modification, recapitalization, retrofit, testing and modernization of helicopters, engines and components for all service and foreign military sales. Its analytical investigation and chemical material process facilities provide aircraft crash analysis and oil and metallurgical analysis, respectively. Its two blade balance stands have the capability of balancing H-60, AH-1, and CH-47
Corpus Christi Army Depot also performs depot-level maintenance and repair, modernization and recapitalization on the following aircraft: UH-60 Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache; CH-47 Chinook; UH-1N Huey; and USAF HH-60 Pavehawk. Additionally, the depot provides work on components for
the OH-58D Kiowa and the AH-1W Super Cobra.But aviation overhaul and repair in Corpus Christi nearly died in 1959!
In the early 1940s, the area which is now the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station was developed to train Navy aviators to fly seaplanes and carrier-based aircraft. They operated an aircraft overhaul and repair facility here until June 30, 1959, when the operation was shut down, putting 3,000 people out of work.
The facility sat idle for nearly two years until the Army took possession of the large hangars and other buildings located on a 15-acre tract. The Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Center began operations April 21, 1961, and began rehiring some of the trained civilian employees. When it opened its doors, maintenance center was tasked with helicopter repair and maintenance for three engines and four airframes. The first UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) helicopter was overhauled in 1962 and by 1968 the facility was in full operation, providing repair and overhaul services to approximately 400 helicopters.
In August 1964, the USS Albemarle, a Navy seaplane tender ship was converted at Charleston Naval Shipyard and in December 1965, re-commissioned by the Army as the Army’s first floating helicopter maintenance facility as the USNS Corpus Christi Bay. It operated in Southeast Asian waters during the Vietnam War and was manned by Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Center personnel. The ship was deactivated in 1975. The ship bell from the USS Albemarle was presented to the depot and is displayed at the main entrance to Corpus Christi Army Depot Headquarters.
In 1974, the facility’s name was changed to the Corpus Christi Army Depot, and it employed more than 4,500 civilian employees to serve the growing Army inventory of helicopters.
In 1992 the Defense Logistics Agency took over the receipt, storage and issue supply function for helicopters, components and most repair parts at the depot.
In June 1993, the BRAC-93 directed that the Navy SH-60B Seahawk, Marine AH-1W Super Cobra, and Air Force MH-60 Pavehawk helicopter work be moved to Corpus Christi Army Depot. Work is also done on the Air Force and Navy UH-1N helicopters.
Corpus Christi Army Depot Far East (Korea) joined the depot maintenance mission in October 2000.
In order to better serve the needs of the Soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, Corpus Christi Army Depot placed a Regional Aviation Support Manager in each country. Depot employees have served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia and are currently serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in both capacities as depot civilian employees and/or as members of an Army Reserve or National Guard deployed unit.
The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Jacksonville Detachment NAS Corpus Christi is located in Building 10, on Ocean Drive. The detachment provides logistics support for NAS Corpus Christi and its tenant activities. The Procurement Division is responsible for purchasing open market goods and services for Navy customers throughout the state of Texas.
Marine Aviation Training Support Group Twenty-Two is a shore activity responsible for providing administration support for Marine Corps personnel within its area of responsibility. Under the operational control of the Marine Corps Training Command, it coordinates its administrative mission through the use of Marine liaisons at NAS Kingsville, Texas; Vance AFB, Okla; and NASA, Houston. To reach the Training Support Group office, call (361) 961-3484.
The United States Marine Corps Reserve Training Center at NAS Corpus Christi is the home of Company C, lst Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. The unit is a Marine infantry company with two of its platoons located in Harlingen, Texas.
The company drills one weekend a month for training, and the inspector-instructor staff provides administrative support such as humanitarian transfers, discharges and assistance with military identification cards for active duty and retired Marines and their dependents. Members of the unit also provide casualty assistance when needed. For further information about the training center, call 961-3235.
The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, located in Hangar 41, is responsible for search and rescue in an area extending from the Colorado River to the Mexican border, making it the southernmost, major unit in the Eighth Coast Guard District. The unit, as it exists today, was formed in 1978 after combining assets and personnel from Group and Air Station Corpus Christi into one command. In 2005, the Group, Air Station, and Marine Safety Office combined to form Sector Corpus Christi.
Today, there are five cutters, six aircraft, 20 small boats and more than 450 men and women who are under the Sector command located aboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. Outlying units include three small boat stations, five cutters, two LORAN stations, two Coast Guard Auxiliary divisions and three Aids to Navigation Teams.
In addition to search and rescue, the unit is responsible for marine safety and environmental protection, law enforcement, and maintaining aids to navigation.
Boat crews and air crews are ready 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond, within 30 minutes, to calls for assistance. The unit’s small boats are deployed for an average annual total of 7,800 hours. Its five cutters log more than 5,200 at-sea hours per year, and Air Station crews fly an average of 5,176 hours per year. Coast Guard Auxiliary units also augment active duty units with 4,000 boat hours and 600 aircraft hours annually, performing various Coast Guard missions.
Members of the military community and general public are invited to tour the Coast Guard facilities by contacting its public affairs office at 939-6227.
Flying five P-3 Orion Command and Control aircraft and five Surveillance and Intercept aircraft out of NAS Corpus Christi, CBP Surveillance Branch - West is responsible for detecting, identifying and tracking aircraft used to smuggle drugs into the United States. It also provides the Department of Homeland Security aerial protection for critical national infrastructures, and helps protect the President and Vice President when they are airborne.
Its area of responsibility includes the entire Western Hemisphere with P-3 aircraft routinely operating from regions of Alaska and Canada, south through the continental United States to the equatorial and Andean ridge latitudes. The aircraft have been re-positioned as far south as Paraguay, as far west as Hawaii, and as far east as Europe.
With a staff of only 129 people, this organization has been responsible for making a considerable dent in the drug trafficking trade. Since June 1987, Surveillance Branch-West has been responsible for the seizure of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of well more than $4.8 billion at current market value.
Customs and Border Protection counter-drug air and marine detection, surveillance and intelligence operations have resulted in the arrest of 888 individuals suspected of involvement in smuggling activities; and the seizure of 200 aircraft, 213 vehicles, 126 vessels, and one million pounds of marijuana and 555,000 pounds of cocaine.
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