Spence flight trainees flew some of the finest training aircraft available at that time.  The base reopened in 1951 flying the North American T-6G , an upgraded version of the WW2 AT-6 advanced trainer.  Later Spence was one the first training bases to receive  the North American T-28, the Beechcraft T-34, and finally the Cessna T-37, the first military jet used in primary training, soon after these airplanes were first procured by the USAF.  Good airplanes and excellent maintenance by the Hawthorne Aircraft Maintenance Department were key elements in the outstanding record recorded by the Spence flying training program.

T-6 --  The early Spence flight trainees flew the T-6G, an updated version of the legendary AT-6 advanced trainer of World War II, for their entire flight training curriculum.  (T-6 Specs)

PA-18 --  In 1952 the PA-18 was added to the training fleet to aid in early screening of flight students and to permit students to develop some degree of proficiency before advancing to the more complex T-6.  The PA-18’s normally operated from the sod area adjacent to the hard surface runways used by the T-6’s.  (PA-18 Specs)

T-28 -- In 1953-54 the T-6 was phased out and replaced by the more modern T-28.  (T-28 Specs)
  T-34 -- The PA-18 was replaced by the new T-34 in 1955.  (T-34 Specs)

T-37                Jet Solo
T-37 --  In 1959-60 the twin-jet T-37 was phased in, replacing the T-28, and it remained in service until the base closed.  At right, first Spence T-37 jet student to complete solo flight.  (T-37 Specs)

   PA-18 brief   T-34 brief
PA-18 and T-34 student briefings.

   T-6's on ramp   T-28's on ramp       
Those T-6’s on the ramp in the early days were later replaced by T-28’s ---

T-37 line   
--- and later still by T-37 jets.

T-34 form    T-6 form   T-28 form  
      T-34, T-6 and T-28 formations - a preview of training yet to come.

  The Army Invasion

For a brief period during 1956 US Army pilot trainees were trained in Cessna L-19 aircraft at Spence Air Base. Volunteer Spence Instructor Pilots received training in army proceedures and six army classes totaling 148 trainees graduated between 4 Jan and 29 June 1956.  Training was conducted off of the sod area at Spence and the Sunset Auxiliary field nearby.  This program was a precursor of the later Hawthorne School of Aeronautics contract Army Primary Flight Training Program at Lowe Field, Fort Rucker, Alabama.      

Hthrn Wngs


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