"You will never be a fighter pilot if you cannot navigate."
Basic Jet Training
On a clear and crisp, bright fall day, as I drove onto NAS Meridian to check in, I passed by a memorial service for an unknown fellow student Naval Aviator, only weeks ahead of me in training. His flag-draped coffin was exiting the base chapel as I drove toward the BOQ (Batchelor Officer Quarters). Like my experience at Saufley Field it was another rude welcome, and a grim reminder of the inherent risks of training to become a Naval Aviator of that time.
Although a bit far from the blindingly beautiful white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, and the social life obviously couldn't compare to Pensacola, the flying was truly exciting. Despite having to adapt to the the new and uncomfortable torso harness, a painfully hard ejection seat, and a tight-fitting and uncomfortable oxygen mask, flying the T-2 was a real thrill!
Despite some inclement flying weather, and Christmas leave, 50 hours of Basic jet familiarization and instrument training in the single engine T-2A Buckeye were completed in little more than 3 months at VT-7. Then I moved to the far end of the same hangar, to VT-9 for three more months of jet formation flight training, this time in the much more capable, dual engine, T-2B.
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