Official beauty shot from the MQ-4C rollout. They really should have put a person beside it to give a size perspective – it’s pretty big. Definitely not a child’s toy.
Author Archives: Mike M.
Though the T-2 has been replaced as a trainer, a few are still in service as chase aircraft. VX-20 has three.
I got to fly T-2s going through TPS. Nice airplane – once you got into the thing. Clambering into the rear cockpit was quite a climb. You had to be a decent alpinist to do it. Once you strapped in, though, the cockpit was roomy, a far cry from the wretchedly cramped TA-4. You almost felt like you could bring a cooler along for the flight. It handled nicely, too. And was, when I went through, one of the few aircraft in the TPS stable that was cleared for spins.
Which meant that it was the spin demo platform. Erect spins, of course. Then inverted spins. And TPS had an inertia coupling demonstration…you put the airplane inverted, started an inverted spin – and applied full aileron. The airplane flips in all three axes. You’d throw up, if you could figure out which way up was. Disorienting from the back seat, and good for about -4 G in the front. I wish I had a video of it. I know one exists, but don’t think it ever made its way to YouTube.
A Navy Test Pilot School UH-72 Lakota. They got these a couple of years ago to replace the old TH-6s.
It’s not widely known, but the Naval Test Pilot School is the only military test pilot school in the country that trains helicopter test pilots. Which means that the Army has a 50% stake in the rotary-wing program, supplies half of the instructors, half of the aircraft (including these), and owns half of the billets. A few years ago, we even had an Army officer as CO of TPS.
Not the sexiest machine, but half the future of maritime patrol. They’re flying the P-8 test force at VX-20 hard. Test programs have a way of being put in a crisis mode – the program is behind schedule, over cost, and the test team gets told to start working 6 days a week/10-12 hours per day to make up the shortfall. Ugly.
Centennial of Naval Aviation T-6, done up in a mid/late 1940’s paint scheme. They got these into the Fleet after I’d gotten into testing Other Flying Machines.
I wasn’t involved in the JPATS selection, but know one of the engineers that did the testing. The Great Worry was that the Air Force would insist on a jet because it had a pointy nose and fire belching out the back…when every analysis clearly indicated that a turboprop was the right choice. The other question being which turboprop – the modified Pilatus PC-9 that won, or the Super Tucano. An interesting choice. I know the Super Tucanos have racked up a good reputation as a light attack/COIN platform, but the PC-9 might be a more economical trainer.