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16-0843

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"JBONE"

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perlan
The T-44 is a remarkable airplane. They have now been in service for 41 1/2 years. I have to believe that some airframes must have in excess of 40,000 hours and maybe 50-60,000 cycles. Lotsa landings when flying circuits. In 1977 I was one of two Beech Pilot Training Specialists that spent 10 weeks at NAS Corpus Christi training the initial cadre of TW-4, VT-28 & VT-31 instructor pilots. The airplanes were put into service one month early in July, 1977 after 700 fleet hours of flying. Prior to the training we were involved, together with several Navy pilots, in putting together the NATOPS manual for the airplane. At the same time we were completing reliability and maintenance flight testing of the airplane. We used Bu. No. 1640840 (Serial No. LL-2) & 120 hours were flown in one month in all kinds of weather conditions and very little went wrong with the airplane. I think 61 airplanes were delivered to the Navy. There might be more, but I only know of 6 airplanes that were in serious accidents. Unfortunately a mid air involving 2 airplanes with 2 IPs and 4 students flying the pattern was fatal for all aboard. During my corporate career I would run into some of the airplanes I flew at Corpus. It pleases me that a large number of the fleet has been upgraded to "glass cockpits". I guess they'll be around for a while. A side note: I had the pleasure of making 2 flights in the Grumman TS-2A (Stoof) as part of my area familiarization and flight curriculum familiarization. What a ball flying behind those round engines!
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