Training Squadron Thirty-Five (VT-35)
Training Squadron 35's (VT-35) primary mission is to provide advanced multi-engine pilot training for Naval and Air Force students who will fly the C-130 Hercules, the C-12 Huron or the P-3 Orion. In addition, VT-35 provides training for Navy aviators going to test pilot school. As of 1999 VT-35 had 23 assigned instructor pilots (12 Air Force, 11 Navy) and 125 students projected for Fiscal Year 2000.
VT-35 joins its sister squadron, Training Squadron 31, which trains Navy and Air Force pilots as well as U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps pilots, and international student pilots from Italy, Germany, Mexico and Norway. VT-31 trains students for the C-130, the C-12 and the P-3, but also trains pilots to fly the Navy's E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 COD, according to Coston.
Training Squadron (VT) 35 was established in a 29 October 1999 ceremony at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The Stingrays were formed from a part of VT-31 to train pilots in the multiengine turboprop TC-12B Huron (Beech Super King Air) aircraft. With VT-35's establishment, the Navy once again had two squadrons to train multiengine pilots. VT-31 instructs students in the T-44A Pegasus, taking over from VT-28, which in the early 1990s became a primary syllabus training squadron operating the T-34C Turbo-Mentor.
The increased need for multiengine training arose when the Navy took on responsibility for providing joint training of Air Force pilots destined to fly the many C-130 Hercules aircraft in service. In 1998 VT-31 began receiving TC-12Bs (former UC-12B utility transports retired from duty) to augment its T-44As, and in 1999 the Navy decided to form a separate squadron to operate the aircraft. Navy pilots who receive their wings in VT-35 will go on to fly the P-3 Orion and EP-3 Aries II.
VT-35 is unique because it is the first Navy squadron to have an Air Force officer as its first commanding officer. (Since joint training was instituted in 1993, other Navy training squadrons have had Air Force COs). Lt. Col. John Gomez is the first CO of the Stingrays, which comprise Navy and Air Force instructor pilots and students.
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