Astronaut Training Program Lifts Off at NAS Pensacola.
The "Cradle of Naval Aviation" took another step toward the future by becoming a key player in astronaut primary training. A program developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) utilizes NAS Pensacola, Fla.'s Training Squadron (VT) 4 and its T-34C Turbo-Mentor trainers for primary astronaut orientation flight training. Astronaut Cdr. Mark Kelly, program coordinator, said, "The instructors here at VT-4 are well trained at working with flight students with no experience." In the past, Air Force T-38 Talon supersonic trainers were used for the primary orientation flight training stage, but the high-performance trainer proved to be too extreme for new civilian mission specialists with limited flight experience. The five-week program includes classroom studies of basic navigation and aeronautics, water survival and 12 orientation flights in the T-34C Turbo-Mentor. When completed, the astronauts will spend another five weeks at Lyndon B.