Flying in the T-6 simulator

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- If you're in the Navy and you want to fly planes, there's a pretty good chance you'll spend some time here.

One of two bases where the Navy trains pilots, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is home to two squadrons of would-be aviators. Today, they are flying both the venerable T-34 and the newer T-6B, but before long the T-34 will be phased out.

One of the linchpins of pilot training here is using the T-6B simulator, and on Road Trip 2014, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman got to try his hand at flying the "plane." Read his full story on Navy pilot training here.

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Cockpit

The "cockpit" of the T-6B simulator is just like its real-world counterpart, so pilots learn how to use all the instruments, switches, and other elements of the plane in the simulator as part of their training on the aircraft.

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Three pods

Each of these giant black pods houses a T-6B simulator, and the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi has six of them, all grouped together inside a large training hangar near other T-6B and T-34 simulators.

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The author flying

CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman banks left, "flying" over Corpus Christi in the T-6B simulator.

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Getting ready for takeoff

The T-6B simulator, moments before "takeoff."

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T-6 simulator weather control screen

Simulator instructors can control many factors about the conditions pilot trainees will be "flying" in, including choosing a wide variety of weather conditions. This is the screen that allows instructors to pick the conditions they want.

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Simulator server

The simulator is run on this server, located alongside it.

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Soaring overhead

Another element the instructor can throw at a pilot trainee is another airplane flying near its airspace, like this DC-10.

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T-6Bs

Parked on the tarmac at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi are T-6Bs, the Navy's newest basic training airplane. It is replacing the T-34, which the Navy has been using for many years.

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T-34

Although the Navy is still teaching pilots to fly in Corpus Christi using the T-34, the planes are soon going to be completely phased out.

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Super King Air

Pilots who have graduated from their initial training choose a specialty. Those who choose multiple engine planes can fly the Super King Air (seen here) at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

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T-44s

Another advanced aircraft pilots can fly after their initial training is the T-44, seen here.

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Many T-6Bs

There are about 60 T-6Bs being used for training -- not all at once -- at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

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Many T-34s

There are still plenty of T-34s being used at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, although the planes will soon be phased out entirely.

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T-6 simulator without screen graphics

Before pilots get into the full T-6B simulator, they first "fly" in this, a similar trainer -- except that it doesn't display graphics on the three screens on the dashboard.

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Steam gauges

Pilots call the old-fashioned dials found on the T-34, and in the T-34 simulator "steam gauges."

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T-34 simulator

A look at a T-34 simulator from the side.

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T-34 trainer with trampoline

On the T-34, pilots who needed to eject hit an ejection switch and then had to somersault out. In this simulator, a trampoline is set up alongside to allow the pilot to do so.

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