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U.S. Navy celebrates 500,000
hours of flight training in T-45

By Staff
SHOWING OFF HIS AIRCRAFT Kelley Cherry, left, of Meridian listens to Lt. j.g. Erik Stinson Friday at Naval Air Station Meridian as he explains some of the features of the T-45C "Goshawk." PHOTO BY KYLE CARTER / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
Sept. 27, 2003
Naval Air Station Meridian celebrated 500,000 hours of flight training for the T-45 A/C "Goshawk" Friday the equivalent of 250 round trips to the moon.
More than 2,046 U.S. Naval aviators, and students from five foreign countries, have received their flight training in the T-45 A/C "Goshawk," both at NAS Meridian and NAS-Kingsville, Texas.
Representatives from the Boeing Company, which manufactures the T-45, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith and NAS Meridian officials attended the ceremony.
Friday's ceremony marked not only a milestone in flight training hours, but also the end of Boeing's maintenance contract with both Naval air stations.
Next week, the maintenance contract for the T-45 aircraft will be taken over by Mississippi-based Vertex Aerospace, formerly Raytheon Aerospace. The contract is valued at $450 million.
The Boeing Company has maintained the aircraft at NAS Meridian and NAS Kingsville for the 13 years, and Boeing representatives said the occasion was bittersweet.
Wilson said he and Boeing are proud of the legacy the company has left behind at NAS Meridian. He added that Boeing will continue to make the T-45 for several years.
Wilson also said that Vertex hired most of Boeing's 300 workers at NAS Meridian; salaried and management personnel will transfer to other jobs within the Boeing Company.
Vertex Aerospace is expected to employ more than 700 people to help with the maintenance of the T-45.