JONT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas-- –
Last week, the year’s fourth and final wave of U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and international students subsided for the 560th Flying Training Squadron.
The squadron trained twenty-six Sailors, Marines, and international pilots during T-38 Navy Test Pilot Transition in 2017.
“The T-38 NTPT is a 21-day course we teach four times each year,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Elza, 560th FTS commander.
It is a change of pace for the squadron known primarily as T-38C Talon pilot instructor trainers at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Only 20 percent of the squadron’s graduates each year are from the T-38 NTPT.
The squadron’s specialization with training pilots in the T-38C is valuable.
“Our students have diverse backgrounds but the T-38C is a primary platform for training new test pilots,” Elza said. Test pilots are specially trained to fly new and modified aircraft.
“Being a test pilot is a cool job,” said Navy Lt. Steven Hollender, a T-38 NTPT student. Hollender was previously an F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot.
“As a test pilot I'll get to test new capabilities for the Navy’s current and future fleet of aircraft,” Hollender said.
Not every student has experience with the squadron’s T-38Cs.
“I had never flown the T-38C before training at JBSA–Randolph,” said Navy Lt. Hunter Fahey. Fahey was previously an E-2C Hawkeye pilot.
“We have had two pilot training events per day and right now I have more than 10 hours of flight time on the T-38C,” Fahey said.
Including Hollender and Fahey there were nine Sailors, two Marines, and two international students in the class that ended this month.
Fahey said he was looking forward to more training at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School on Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland. Hollender continues training at the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The squadron will continue T-38 NTPT for the foreseeable future.
“Our next test pilot class will start in the spring,” Elza said.