A perfect advanced trainer for Maritime Patrol in this VT-31 Wise Owl T-44. This hand-crafted wood model makes a memorable winging gift upon completion of training. 18 inches.
Training Squadron THIRTY-ONE began training Student Naval Aviators in February 1958 as Advanced Training Unit 601. The unit, assigned to NAS Corpus Christi, flew the Beechcraft SNB multi-engine aircraft as an instrument and navigation trainer. Commissioned as VT-31 on 1 May 1960, the squadron’s scope of training was expanded and a new aircraft, the P2V “Neptune”, replaced the aging SNB’s. In January 1961, VT-31 continued its expansion when the first P5M “Marlin” was accepted for the advanced training syllabus.
In 1963, another reorganization of advanced training found VT-31 transitioning to the TS-2A “Tracker”, an aircraft the squadron would use for the next 15 years. The “Stoof”, as it was called, was used in all facets of advanced multi-engine training which included carrier qualifications for naval aviators.
VT-31’s transition to the Beechcraft T-44A began in spring of 1977, and on 8 February 1979, the last TS-2A departed the squadron. The T-44A is the military version of the popular Beechcraft King Air 90 and is equipped with a full range of avionics equipment for instrument conditions including a weather radar and RNAV. Students, as well as instructors, appreciate the fully pressurized and air conditioned cabin which provides an ideal learning environment. In addition to the aircraft, the students also receive instruction in fully computerized synthetic trainers. These devices are able to simulate virtually any instrument flying condition and allow students to fly numerous instrument approaches. The trainer can be “frozen” during any phase of the flight to discuss mistakes or replay a portion of an instrument approach.
In 1996, VT-31’s aircraft fleet began to grow. The established and successful USAF joint training program resulted in VT-31 being tasked to train all Air Force C-130 students. With the number of students almost doubling, the need for more aircraft became apparent. Since the T-44A is no longer in production, the UC-12B was chosen to support the current fleet of T-44A aircraft. The UC-12B designation was changed to TC-12B and its primary mission was changed from cargo to training student Military Aviators.
VT-31’s sister squadron, VT-35 was commissioned in October of 1999 to fly the TC-12B aircraft. VT-31’s command size was reduced by approximately one third and the aircraft fleet returned to solely the T-44A.
VT-31 is one of four aviation training squadrons attached to Training Air Wing FOUR and is one of two advanced multi-engine training squadrons in the Navy. The squadron has historically trained students from the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and foreign students in all phases of advanced multi-engine flight procedures to include Aircraft Familiarization, Radio Instruments, Airways Navigation, Visual Navigation and Formation flying. After receiving their “Wings of Gold” or “Silver”, the newly designated Military Aviators will head to their particular aircraft, usually a P-3C Orion (Navy), C-130 Hercules (Marine, Coast Guard and Air Force) or HU25 Falcon (Coast Guard).
VT-31 carries a staff composed of approximately 69 officers and 19 enlisted. The squadron utilizes Beechcraft contract maintenance which employs a totally civilian maintenance force. The squadron’s primary mission continues to be training the finest Military Aviators in the world. Command Website