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NAS Meridian says goodbye to T-2C Buckeye

By Staff
LINED UP Five of the 10 T-2Cs leaving Meridian are lined up and ready to go Tuesday. With the departure of the T-2Cs, all student pilots at Naval Air Station Meridian will now be trained in T-45Cs. Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 2, 2004
The last T-2C "Buckeye" flown by a student Naval aviator at Naval Air Station Meridian touched down at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The last students to use the Buckeyes finished their intermediate training and will complete their advanced aviator training in the newer, state-of-the-art T-45C Goshawk.
Six student aviators who flew the T-2C Buckeyes onto a simulated aircraft carrier deck Tuesday were: 1st Lt. Ryan Maple, Lt. j.g. Matt Fisher, 1st Lt. Matt Freeman, Ensign Kip Shively, Lt. j.g. Nathan Barton, and 1st Lt. Dan Stoner.
Lt. Cmdr. Vince Walters, who is responsible for student scheduling, tracking and flight operations at NAS Meridian, said there is a sentimental quality associated with the Buckeyes used exclusively to teach U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps aviators how to fly from 1958-1992.
He added that the Buckeyes have gone through their own technical metamorphosis over the years. Walters said most of the last Buckeyes at NAS Meridian were built in the 1980s.
Ten T-2Cs remain at the base, but they will be flown to other areas soon.
Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Parks, a pilot instructor, said some Buckeyes will go into storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz. He said some also are slated to go to Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, Fla., and some will be put on the market for foreign military sales.
Venezuela and Greece both train with T-2C aircraft.
Parks has trained students in both the T-2Cs and T-45Cs. He said the main difference between the Buckeye and the Goshawk is that the Buckeye has two jet engines while the Goshawk has one.
The Buckeyes have instrument gauges that measure readings by needles and numbers, as opposed to the digital cockpit of a Goshawk.
Instructors said the Buckeye was more "forgiving" than the Goshawk aircraft in flight.
Cmdr. Mike Horsefield is the executive officer of VT-9, the unit that trains student aviators. He said that students could simulate a loss of controlled flight in the T-2C, and recover without much difficulty but that is not the case with the T-45C.
While the new jet trainers are not as forgiving as its predecessor, Horsefield said students have more capabilities with its simulators than the T-2C simulators had.
Horsefield also said the T-45C is more compatible working on an aircraft carrier than the Buckeyes.
Lt. Cmdr. Will Oliver, VT-9 landing signals officer and instructor, compiled the last grades for the last T-2C exercise at NAS Meridian on Tuesday. He said there is an advantage for students who trained in both planes, because they will have to learn how to fly new aircraft in the fleet, too.
Plans call for the T-45C to be used in training through the year 2030.