How the Navy trains its pilots (pictures)
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.
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.
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.
The author flying
CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman banks left, "flying" over Corpus Christi in the T-6B simulator.
Getting ready for takeoff
The T-6B simulator, moments before "takeoff."
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.
The simulator is run on this server, located alongside it.
Another element the instructor can throw at a pilot trainee is another airplane flying near its airspace, like this DC-10.
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.
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.
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.
Another advanced aircraft pilots can fly after their initial training is the T-44, seen here.
There are about 60 T-6Bs being used for training -- not all at once -- at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
There are still plenty of T-34s being used at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, although the planes will soon be phased out entirely.
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.
Pilots call the old-fashioned dials found on the T-34, and in the T-34 simulator "steam gauges."
A look at a T-34 simulator from the side.
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.