Aviation Sciences Department to Test Plane for Air Force

Feb. 12, 1997

WACO, Texas -- The Department of Aviation Sciences at Baylor University has been awarded a 16-month contract to test and evaluate the T-3A, which is the first aircraft that potential Air Force pilots learn to fly. Dr. Max Schauk, chairman of aviation sciences, and Neal Unruh, a research associate in aviation sciences, will look for any potential problems in the engine and propulsion system of the T-3A aircraft.

The department is tasked to identify potential problems, determine reasonable ways to fix them and estimate the costs involved.

The aviation sciences department took delivery on two T-3A airplanes in September and began flying the aircraft in January. Schauk and Unruh traveled to Hondo, Texas, in the fall to learn to fly the T-3A at the 3rd Flying Training Squadron. The Baylor investigators try to fly the aircraft three days a week, weather permitting. Flights in the T-3A require VFR (visual flight rules) conditions. The pilots do not fly the airplane at night.

"This is a very high performance aircraft," said Unruh. "It is capable of aerobatics and is similar in handling to the first jet that Air Force students learn to fly. It is fun to fly, a good trainer."

The Air Force uses the T-3A as an enhanced flight screener. Air Force student pilots complete a three-week course in the T-3A, and if they pass, they move on to the Air Force flight training program. According to T-3A instructors, the most common reasons why students will fail this pilot "audition" is if they have poor landings and flight pattern work.

The Air Force began using the T-3A in 1993, but the aircraft has experienced some problems and has been involved in some air mishaps. The Baylor investigators already have identified significant questions about the airplane that need to be explored.

For more information, contact aviation sciences at (817) 755-3563.

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