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Farewell, Buckeye!

No, not the Ohio State variety, but the primary navy jet trainer for much of the last 50 years - the T-2C Buckeye.The T-2 Buckeye, last seen training future naval aviators and naval flight officers in Pensacola and other environs, slipped the surly bonds of earth for the ultimate time this past Friday, 9 August. As the Pensacola News Journal said:

Lt. j.g. Dave Chun, 33, and 1st Lt. Brian Miller, 29, were the last student aviators to fly the iconic jet.Chun reflected on the historic moment after receiving his pilots wings, following the successful completion of his final exercise.This is the third best day of my life, he said, holding a freshly opened bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion. My wife and my baby, those are the only things that beat this.t2-formation-01.jpgThe Navys Buckeyes have flown a combined 3.4 million hours, making it one of the Navys most used jets. Since its introduction to the fleet in 1959, nearly every Naval aviator trained in Pensacola flew the Buckeye in preparation for aircraft carrier landings.
The venerable light "attack thunder guppy", first entering service in 1959, flew its last naval aviator training hop last week. Most every navy pilot or naval flight officer you saw strutting around in a flight suit since the end of the Eisenhower administration has some time in this baby.A very forgiving aircraft, in addition to being the first jet that naval aviators climbed into, it was also used as a spin-procedures trainer for tactical aviators due to its easy recovery capabilities. That was always a fun hop - head out into the restricted area over Phelps Lake in North Carolina, do your clearing turn to ensure other aircraft weren't in the area, get to 250 knots at about 20k, pull the nose up to start bleeding off speed, then kick full left rudder while yanking the stick to full aft right. BOOM...inverted spin...watch the AOA go to 2 or 3 units, watch the airspeed go from 250 down to below 100, start to count the turns, and ye-haw! Recover...neutral stick, feet on the deck (off the rudder pedals), after a few turns the nose steadies out, the turns stop and you recover. So THAT is what an inverted spin is like!The jet didn't have much in the way of thrust. The early models were a single Westinghouse J-34 with about 3,400 lbs of thrust - that was the thrust of the phoenix missile the Tomcats carried, for cripes sake! Later models, introduced in the early 60's, eventually had 2 GE J-85 engines installed, nearly doubling the thrust at 3,000 lbs each. Compare that to the F-35 PW F-135 engine that puts out over 40,000 of thrust. Now THAT would make a worthwhile trainer!The T-2 was sold to 2 other countries, Greece and Venezuela, so if we ever do get into a scrap with Hugo at least we know what those boys trained in.A fine junior-varsity steed to learn in. Sleep well, Guppy!Runnin down the wings.balls up, caps onU.S. Navy photo by Ensign Darin K. Russell.--Pinch Paisley
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