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Training Squadron SEVEN

The "EAGLES" of Training Squadron Seven originated as a Naval Advanced Training Activity located at Naval Air Station Millington, Memphis, Tennessee. Originally composed of two advanced training units, ATU-105 and ATU-205, in July 1958 they were consolidated into a single squadron, BTU-7. This Squadron used T-28 "Trojans" and T-29 "Seastars" to train student aviators in basic instrument flying.

In June 1960, the Squadron moved to Naval Air Station, Kingsville, Texas and began receiving the T2J-1 "Buckeye", a two-place jet trainer built by the North American Aviation Corporation and the forerunner of today's basic jet trainer. The Squadron was designated Training Squadron SEVEN (VT-7) in July 1960 and received the mission to provide training in jet transition, precision aerobatics, basic and radio instruments, formation, gunnery, and carrier qualifications.

In July of 1961, Training Squadron SEVEN moved to newly established NAS Meridian, MS. On 15 December 1961, the Squadron split to form a "sister" squadron, Training Squadron NINE. In 1964, Training Squadron SEVEN won its first of fifteen Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Awards for representing not only a superior safety record, but also an aggressive and professional approach to safeguarding the lives of all personnel. 1999 marked the most recent year that Training squadron SEVEN yet again was awarded the CNO safety award.

In October of 1970, the newest member of the "Buckeye" family, the twin-engine T-2C aircraft, made its appearance aboard Training Squadron SEVEN in response to the Navy's need for a more reliable and powerful training aircraft. A year later, in August 1971, a major change took place in the structure of the Naval Air Training Command. Training Squadron NINE split to form a "sister" squadron, Training Squadron NINETEEN, and both squadrons began sharing the basic training role at Meridian. At that time, Training Squadron SEVEN transitioned to the Douglas TA-4J "Skyhawk" and took over the advanced strike missions including air-to-ground weapons delivery, low-level navigation, air combat maneuvering, and carrier qualifications. This allowed a flight student to complete both intermediate and advanced jet training at one Naval Air Station.

Training Squadron SEVEN completed its first advanced strike student in the spring of 1972 when First Lieutenant L. C. Ernst received his "Wings of Gold". As of October 2000, the "Eagles" of Training Squadron SEVEN winged over 3,200 Naval and Marine Corps Aviators. Additionally, the Squadron trained over 200 International Students from France, Italy, Kuwait, Spain, Thailand, and Brazil.

Training Squadron SEVEN has received many awards throughout its history. In 1964, VT-7 was awarded its first of thirteen Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Awards for representing not only a superior safety record, but also an aggressive and professional approach to safeguarding the lives of all personnel. In January of 1975, VT-7 completed its first accident-free year in the A-4 "Skyhawk," and in July of that same year amassed a total of 35,000 accident-free hours. In November 1981, the squadron received a unit commendation from Secretary of the Navy John Lehman for accomplishing the squadron's Pilot Training Requirement (PTR) for fiscal year 1980, while remaining accident free for the entire year. In 1994, the squadron was presented the Vice Admiral Goldthwaite Award, the Golden Anchor Award and the CNO Safety Award. They also received the Safety Award in 1995 and the Vice Adm. John H. Towers Flight Safety Award in 1996.

September 1999 marked the end of an era in Naval Aviation and Training Squadron SEVEN. After over 28 years of faithful service, the Eagles winged their last Naval Aviator in the venerable TA-4J, and the last Skyhawk flew from the VT-7 flightline. A new chapter began as Training Squadron SEVEN transitioned to the T-45C Goshawk. In its first year of Goshawk service, VT-7 flew over 18,000 sorties, accumulated over 21,000 flight hours, and 1295 Carrier landings.

The student naval aviator pipeline takes approximately two years of intense flight training involving many hours of ground school, flight simulator work and close to 300 hours of flight time in three different aircraft. The students also accomplish a feat known only to a handful of pilots in the world -- they land jet aircraft on board an aircraft carrier, qualifying them as carrier aviators. There is a continuous pool of approximately 90 student naval aviators in VT-7 at any one time.




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