Flying my most favorite airplane of all time, the T-28

Meeting a T-28

You didn’t climb into or onto a T-28, you mounted it. This was no ordinary trainer. Walking up from the front, there was a twelve foot diameter prop sitting in front of a nine cylinder radial engine.

One of the things you noticed right away was that the engine was canted down and to the right. This was done intentionally by the designers to help offset the torque of the engine and reduce the amount of rudder needed on take-off.

To get on board, first, you made sure the flaps were down. If the plane captain hadn’t lowered them for you, there was a little lever that you could pull that would cause the hydraulic system to lower them all the way. To a young Student Naval Aviator, when down, they looked like barn doors compared to the small ones on the T-34B we flew in primary.

To get up to the cockpit, you stuck toe of your boot into the steps on the flap and climbed onto the wing. From there, assuming you were the first flight of the day, you lifted the 30 pounds of parachute and positioned into the well on the back of the seat. Once there, the parachute became your backrest.

With the ‘chute in place, you made sure the battery magneto switches along with the fuel mixture lever were in the off position and the throttle was closed before you climbed down to pre-flight the airplane. That would take about five to seven minutes and after you finished, you climbed back up on the wing.

In ground school for the T-28, one of the instructors suggested that students should go out and get a set of leather work gloves to use while you pushed and pulled things on the plane while you conducted the pre-flight. This would minimize the amount of oil and grease that got onto your Nomex gloves. This was good advice and I still carry a set of pre-flight gloves that when they get soaked with oil and grease, they go into the trash.  Before climbing into the cockpit, I stuffed the pre-flight gloves into the left boot pocket of my flight suit and on came the Nomex gloves.

The preflight was like any other but one of the first things they tell you about radial engines is that they leak and use oil. The T-28 had a seven gallon oil tank and after a four hour cross country flight, the plane would need a gallon or two! Rule of thumb for radial engines is that if they are not leaking oil, then you probably have to add some.

Strapping in
Standing next to the fuselage, you lifted one leg over the canopy rail on the edge of cockpit and onto the seat cushion followed by the other. Now, you could slide down into the seat and the next step was to adjust the seat and the rudder pedals. In almost every airplane I have flown, I positioned the seat as high as possible and then brought the rudder pedals into a position where I could easy get full throw and push the brakes fully. In airplanes, the brakes are levers above the rudder pedals and you activate them with the balls of your feet and your toes. During take-off, once the brakes are released, you dropped your heels to the floor.

From the beginning of flight training, Navy instructors teach you to always have the seat in the same place to give you a constant sight picture and so you could rest your right forearm on your knee board to to provide a constant point of reference. This allowed you to fly the airplane with your thumb and forefinger once it was trimmed up. Or, you could grip the stick when you needed it and still have the same reference point.

The exception to my seat placement was a trick I learned from my dad for flying at night and in nasty weather. He suggested that when there were thunderstorms and lightning near-by, drop the seat down close to the bottom so the flashes of light from storms many miles away won’t be so distracting.  Trust me, the suggestion works.

Once in the seat, you buckled the parachute’s chest, shoulder and crotch straps and made sure that the aluminum “D” shaped ring was in the right spot just in front of your left shoulder. Once buckled, you took special care to pull the shoulder and crotch straps good and tight. If you had to bail out, the last thing you wanted the do was leave the crotch straps loose because they could do serious, painful damage to your private parts when the parachute opened. You knew if the crotch straps pinched a little bit, they were just right.

But, you were not done yet because you now had to buckle connect the shoulder harness to the three inch wide lap belt. This was easy if you were wearing gloves because the metal loops from the shoulder harness fit neatly together and then into a hook on the lap belt. There were tabs on each to pull them tight.

With practice, the process took about as long to do as it did for you to read this description of getting strapped in. Once ensconced and strapped into the cockpit of the T-28, your head was about eight to ten feet off the ground and it was a roomy place. There was room for one’s helmet bag on one side of the seat and, if you were going on a cross country, a chart bag on the other. Back then, when I was young and thin, I was five foot ten and 150 pounds and the edge of the cockpit was just above my elbows. Soooo, when one slid the bubble canopy closed, the view was, like most modern fighters, spectacular except where blocked by the wings on either side.

Starting the engine
The pre-start and starting check-lists were relatively short and straightforward until you got to the part where you actually started the engine. I still remember the sequence today as if I was still in the training command. The procedure required some dexterity because the throttle and mixture controls were on the left side of the cockpit and the button that engaged the starter and primer were on the right. The sequence, once you got to the line on the check list that said “engine start” went like this.

1. Parking brake set. Toes fully depressing the brakes.
2. Crack, i.e. open it, the throttle about a three-quarters of an inch.
3. Mixture in the closed position a.k.a. by its proper name of “idle cut off.
4. With your right hand, engage the starter button with your forefinger and count 12 blades as they crossed the top of the engine cowling in front of you. Why 12? The NATOPS manual specified that mean to make sure that oil had not filled the bottom cylinder and caused a hydraulic lock.
5. As soon as the twelfth blade passed, use your left hand to turn the magnetos to the “on” position and keep the starter turning with your right index finger. At the same time, push the prime button down for a few seconds with your right middle finger hoping that the engine catches and doesn’t flood.
6. When the engine starts to run, stop priming and use your left hand to open the mixture lever to full rich.
7. When the engine is running, adjust the throttle with you left hand to bring the engine to idle between 1,000 and 1,200 rpm. If you added too much throttle, you got a blast of power that could cause the plane’s wheels to jump over one or both of the chocks and send the plane captain who was manning the fire extinguisher running!

The R-1820 engine will belch a cloud of blue smoke before smoothing out. Sometimes you would get a mild backfire. I may be a romantic or even nuts, but there is nothing like the sound of  a radial engine starting. First there is whirring noises from the starter motor as you counted the blades and then, you primed the cylinders and turned on the magnetos and you can feel one, then two and then all the cylinders would start firing. The engine rumbled and the airplane shook, but one a radial was going, it was pretty smooth considering all the moving parts in one.

With the engine running and assuming that the chip light was out and the gauges had normal readings, you were ready to taxi. On cold mornings, you would sit there for about thirty seconds or so to let the temperatures move off their pegs.

On the left side, there was a lever with a canopy shaped handle that with the engine running, you slid forward and the canopy closed and then pins dropped into place to lock it down. If you had to bail out, the preferred method was to open the canopy using the lever but there was also a “jettison” position that blew it off. With the canopy closed, the sound was muted and smells of an engine burning very high octane fuel was cut off.

One note about the fuel we burned. It had an octane rating of 145 – that’s almost half again as much as the hi-test gasoline we burn in our cars today which at best, in the mid nineties. The fuel had a purple dye to differentiate the gas from other aviation fuels with lower octane ratings. The 145 octane gasoline had tetraethyl lead added generate the high octane rating. The additive was developed in the 1930s to allow higher compression ratios and provide more performance at higher altitudes. The bad news is that 145 octane fuel is very, very explosive and the Navy couldn’t wait to get it off carriers. And yes, there are many stories about how people tried the fuel in their cars, either mixed with their existing gas or straight. The result was melted pistons, burned valves and other serious engine damage.

On the ground, the T-28’s tricycle gear kept the nose level, and gave you a decent view forward and as long as the engine was at idle, keeping your taxi speed down was easy. Differential braking was needed to turn because the plane did not have nose wheel steering. For some turns, a blast of power provided  aerodynamic leverage via the large rudder.

Taking off
Take-offs in the T-28 were a hoot. The take off checklist prescribed five degrees of right rudder trim (which is a lot) to help offset the engine’s torque. One of the things you learn in ground school is that the engine is offset down and to the right to help reduce the torque effect. The T-28, like any of the World War II fighters has LOTS, and I mean LOTS of torque. If you don’t set the trim properly, you may not have enough right rudder travel (or strength) to keep the plane pointed down the center line of the runway.  If that happened,  there was a race to see if you can get airborne before angled off the runway and into the grass!

For a normal take-off, you eased the throttle forward to 30 inches of manifold pressure while holding the brakes. If the runway was wet, at this power setting, the airplane would skip forward and to the left a bit. As the manifold pressure reached 30 inches you released the brakes and added a lot of right rudder. One thing you learned early on is that your right foot was tied to your left hand. Anytime you added more than a couple of inches of power in the T-28, you also added right rudder. The drill, to use a Royal Air force expression, was left hand forward, right foot forward.

At 40 inches of manifold pressure, the airplane is vibrating and shaking and the best way to smooth things out was to release the brakes. As you did, you fed in more right rudder to keep the nose tracking the centerline stripe on the runway. As soon as the T-28 started moving, you pushed the throttle to the stop which gave you about 48 inches of manifold pressure and added more right rudder.

As the T-28 gained airspeed, you eased off the right rudder to keep the nose pointed down the runway’s white center stripe. The plane accelerated light a jet and passing 80 knots, a little back pressure on the stick was all that was needed to get the airplane to leave the runway.

Gear and flaps were raised immediately so you didn’t exceed the maximum gear down speed.  By the time they were in the wheel wells, the T-28, was passing 120 knots and you were raising the nose to a climbing attitude. Depending on how much sky you wanted the radial engine to blot out, you’d climb at between 130 and 150 knots. The steeper the climb, the less you could see so we S-turned back and forth to see what was out front.

With the gear and flaps up and the climbing attitude set, and assuming there was no other drama like a chip light or low oil pressure, and you were still on the runway heading, you could enjoy the sound and fury of nine pistons the size of large cans going up and down with the engine set to 2,500 rpm. Passing 1,000 feet, the throttle came back to set climb power at s a mere 36 inches of manifold pressure and adjusted the rudder, elevator and if needed, aileron trim to take out any of the control pressures.

Importance of trim
I keep mentioning trimming which is adjusting the position small “flaps” known as trim tabs along the trailing edge of the airplanes control surfaces. By doing so, one reduces the amount of force/effort you need to exert on the stick (or yoke) to maintain the desired attitude and airspeed. From the beginning of our training in the Navy, we were taught the importance of trim.

Trimming reduces your workload and allows you to do other things in the cockpit such as look at charts, tune radios, switch fuel tanks without worrying the airplane has ventured off into some unusual attitude. Even to this day, I take great pride in being able to trim an airplane to fly “hands off” and execute climbs and descents and even fly instrument approaches using nothing but the trim tabs.

From the beginning, instructors taught us that everything you did in any airplane should be governed by the PAST principle which was an acronym that stood for “power, attitude, speed brake, trim.” Anytime you did anything in the T-28, if you followed that sequence, flying was a lot easier.

For a piston engine airplane, the T-28 climbed like a homesick angel all the way up to about 16 to 18 thousand feet. Climb rates of two and three thousand feet per minute were not uncommon. If you wanted to fly above 16 thousand feet, you could engage the second stage of the supercharger. There was an involved check list that required you to reduce power, shift gears – literally – from low blower to high blower – and then ease the power back on.

Flying the T-28
One in the air, the T-28 was a joy. Typical training flights were an hour and a half long as a student.  If you went back to the training command as an instructor or were assigned to a Naval Air Station that had T-28s “assigned,” you could “check one out.”  The airplane had enough gas for about four hours of flying. Cruising at 10 to 12 thousand feet, you burned 35 – 40 gallons of fuel an hour and were going an easy 220 knots in the “B” models.  The “Cs” which had a chopped prop to minimize deck strikes on carrier landings were about 20 knots slower but burned gas at about the same rate.

We not allowed to do snap rolls, outside loops or Lomcevaks which is the extreme aerobatic maneuver in which the airplane tumbles through the sky   Loops, rolls, Immelman’s, Cuban 8s, split-S’s, wing overs were all part of the syllabus.

The view through the clear canopy was superb and the T-28 was a very stable instrument platform assuming the plane was trimmed. I got to the point once I got the gear and flaps down, I could fly both GCA’s (ground controlled approaches) and keep the needles centered on an ILS using just the trim tabs. All I had to do was ease the stick back to flare for the landing.

Aerobatics was where the T-28 really shined. You started almost every maneuver at 180 knots or faster. Loops and vertical maneuvers were started at 220 knots.

Aileron rolls were fun. You simply moved the stick in the direction you wanted to roll and then fed in forward stick to keep the nose up when you upside down because the heavy radial engine up would cause the nose to drop. As you finished the roll, take out the forward pressure.

You could to a barrel roll and if you hit your points, i.e. 45 degrees nose up, 45 degrees of roll, 180 degrees of roll and 90 degrees of heading change and then back down the other side. Done correctly, you wind up heading in the same direction, just displaced a few hundred yards. Barrel and aileron rolls were my favorites.

In a spin, the  T-28, came down like a stone. In a three turn spin, you’d drop seven or eight thousand feet! The spin was “stable,” but the entry could be on the violent side. When theT-28 stalled, the plane snapped over on its back and then started rotating nose down. To recover, push the stick forward of the neutral position, feed in full opposite rudder to stop the rotation AND then neutralize or the T-28 would spin the other way. Then, ease back on the stick to bring the nose back and you were ready for more.

One day on a solo flight as a student, I decided to see if the airplane would do a torque roll in the landing configuration. As students, we’d all heard stories that in the traffic pattern, if you added full power when slow, the airplane would flip over on its back.

Thinking I was the ace of the base and with about 15 hours in the airplane, I slowed to 90 knots, dropping the gear and full the flaps along the way. Level at 10,000 feet and trimmed to fly hands off at  90 knots, yours truly shoved the throttle up to 48 inches. By time I got the throttle all the way to the stop, the airplane was on its back and the nose was falling through the horizon. My hands flew around the cockpit as I raised the gear and flaps before I exceeded the airspeed limits on both. Technically, what happened is called split-S’ing out of a maneuver. Thoroughly chastised, I went to one of the outlying airfields and did a few touch and goes before returing to Whiting Field.

Carrier qualifications
Carrier qualifications in the T-28Cs were a hoot. The difference between the B and the C model was, besides the tail hook, was a strengthened landing gear, a smaller diameter propeller and strangely enough, hard points for bombs, rockets, etc. on the wings.  In the cockpit, the ordnance control panel was mounted below the instrument panel between your legs. The C model was heavier and with the chopped prop, didn’t climb or go as fast.

For field carrier landing practice a.k.a. FCLPs, we’d take of in section of two T-28s, rendezvous with another pair and then return to Barin Field to  entered the break at 180 knots and 500 feet.  The Navy teaches a constantly curving approach from the abeam position which is unlike the squared off method taught to civilian pilots which have a well defined downwind leg followed by a 90 degree turn to a base leg and then another 90 degree turn to line up with the runway.

In the Navy, we come down the runway center line, and then turn right or left, level the wings momentarily at the abeam position we call the 180 and the turn toward the runway. This is the technique developed din the 1930s when the large radial engines blocked your view of the runway or carrier. The method is still used today with jets.

Back to the approach. Over the runway numbers at Barin Field at 500 feet, the first airplane in the four plane flight breaks left into a 60 degree bank. The following planes count to ten and then break in sequence about 10 – 15 seconds apart.

Once in the turn, the pilot lowers the gear, flaps to full and the hook as he slows to 82 knots and 325 feet. The C models all had a little piece of tape on the airspeed indicator that marked 82 knots. At the abeam or 180 position, one has to be at 325, not 320 or 330, but 325. As a student, we called out our side number and last name along with the plane’s fuel state and reported “all down,” which meant the T-28’s hook, flaps and landing gear were all down.

Why 82 knots? This is the speed in the landing configuration where the wing is generating the most lift.

Back then, I had visions of silk scarves streaming in the wind as in the World War II movies and had my dad’s original U.S. Army Air Corps issued silk scarf with me. The instructors said I could wear the scarf but to keep it tucked into my flight suit. Oh well!

Coming around, someplace around 135 degrees from the ship, you pick up the ball. Understand that the ship is moving away from you and the landing area (runway) is at an angle to the direction the ship is moving. What this means is that when you are on final, to keep in the groove, the airplane is in a slight slip.

As soon as you see the fresnel lens, you say, Pussycat 706 (the side number of t he airplane and Pussycat was VT-5’s name), “Got a ball.” Hopefully, at this point, the ball is centered on the light bar and you just fly it down until the airplane impacts the deck. However, you will get calls from the landing signal officer (LSO) such as power which means just that. Attitude means raise the nose slightly. You may told to correct left or right. And, the intensity of the LSOs voice as well as how often he uses the word tells you how much of a change is needed.

Inside the cockpit your scan is airspeed, meatball, line-up. Your eyes are moving that fast and your hands and feet are moving very subtly because if you are ham handed, you’ll hear “Wave off.”  Not only don’t you get a trap, but the grades from the bad pass go into your landing grade.

I remember my first pass. LSO said, “Looking good. Give me a little power and come right for line-up.” Bang, the T-28 hit the deck, stopped abruptly I was slammed slammed forward against the straps as the plane stopped.  At that pooint you have to transition instantly to “I’m taxiing.” The Air Boss wants you out of the landing area as soon as possible so there’s a sailor in a yellow shirt who is a taxi director in front of you signalling to raise your hook and turn left.

He passes you off to another yellow shirt who lines you up for the take off run on a white line that runs from the front of where the angle sticks out a.k.a. “the notch” to the front of the deck.  In the T-28, we didn’t use a catapult because we didn’t need one. I remember sitting there thinking that this is just like WWII.

Meanwhile, outside the cockpit, there’s an officer in a green turtleneck giving me the signal to go to full power, i.e. 48 inches and 2,500 rpm. Quickly, I run through the take off checklist, make sure my harness is tight. When all is ready, I saluted and he touched the Lexington’s deck with his right hand signaling me to release the brakes and pull the stick as far back as I could.

My first take off from the deck of the U.S.S. Lexington was a fun, exciting and shocking. e. The drill was run up to a full 48 inches of manifold pressure and hold the brakes.  When the nose comes up, we were told just push forward to level off into a “normal” climb out. Keep in mind, until we did it the first time, none of us had ever made a deck run take off from a carrier.

The weather brief said we would have about 20 knots of wind over the deck. Before we left Barin Field, the instructor reminded us not to look at the airspeed indicator until we were past the bow of the ship. First shock was that the T-28 seemed to jump into the air.  Well before I reached the bow, my plane was a good 20 feet off the deck and climbing. The second shock came when I looked at the the airspeed indicator which was just coming off the peg and showing an airspeed of 20 knots!

Lag in the pitot static system caused the low reading and by the time I reached the end of the deck, the T-28 was accelerating past 90 knots.  And, it was time to turn down wind, slow to 82 knots, double check the gear and flaps were down and lower hook.

Even though that first pass and trap aboard the Lexington went by in a blur, I can remember almost every detail and still get excited. In many ways, those seven arrested landings meant that I had arrived as a Naval Aviator even though I was only about two-thirds of the way through the training command.

Anyway, I just loved the airplane because it was as close to flying a World War II fighter as I was ever going to get. I had a chance to fly the T-28 after I was designated which was even more fun because I could do anything in I wanted and did not have to worry about an instructor telling me what I could or should do. I spent hours doing aerobatics in it solo and even a few, well more than a few, one versus one dogfights with other T-28s. It was simply a great airplane to fly.

The T-28’s history
The initial concept that drove the design of the T-28 was to build a trainer that would help pilots transition from slower piston engine primary trainers to high performance piston engine fighters and jets. When the T-28 was designed in the late 1940s, most of the airplanes in the the Air Force and Navy inventories had piston engines. The Air Forces and Navies of 27 countries wound up flying T-28s in a variety of roles from training to close air support, even weather reconnaissance.

Four different models of T-28s were built by North American Aviation who also built the T-6 trainer, the P-51 and the F-86 fighters. North American was acquired by Rockwell International and then Rockwell was bought by Boeing.  Just under 2,000 T-28s were built.

All T-28s had the same air frame which had two cockpits in tandem. The T-28A had a seven cylinder R-1300 radial engine with about 800 horsepower that drove a two bladed prop. The A model was bought by the U.S. Air Force and other countries as a trainer.  The Argentine Navy also bought C models to train its own Naval Aviators on how to land on a carrier.

The Navy opted for the T-28B and the T-28C. Both had a nine cylinder R-1820 radial engine with a two stage supercharger and about 1,425 horsepower and a three bladed prop. The U.S. Navy started using the T-28 in the early 1950s and the last training command flight was made 34 years later in 1984!

When I went through the training command in 1968, we started the primary phase of flight training in the T-34B Mentor  most of us, including the instructors called it the Teenie Weanie. Then, after a grand total of about 25 hours or so, you went off into the jet pipeline and transitioned to the T-2A, a single engine jet for “Basic.” Or, you went through “Basic” as I did in the T-28. After about 10 hours of dual and a check ride, you were sent off to fly the T-28 solo. This was pretty amazing when I look back. Most of the students going through the training command had never flown an airplane before and now, with between 30 and 40 total hours, we were allowed to solo in a plane that could easily do 220 knots!

The big difference between the B and the C models was that the C was designed to land on a carrier. To do that, they reduced the diameter of the prop by six inches, added beefed up landing gear and a tail hook. The C model also had two ordnance stations, one on each wing. The B and the C flew identically with the only noticeable difference was that the C wasn’t as fast and climbed slower.

Some of the B models had a canvas hood that the student in the back pulled forward and flew the airplane solely on instruments.  When the student was “under the bag” as it was known, the instructor in the front acted as a safety pilot and when not flying on an actual instrument flight plan, simulated air traffic controllers.

The T-28D was adapted for counter insurgency or COIN operations and flown by a variety of air forces around the world. Called a Nomad, the D model had some armor plating and self-sealing fuel tanks along with three ordnance stations on each wing so the plane could carry bombs, rockets and gun pods. These were all converted from Air Force T-28As.

50 Comments

  1. John on January 1, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Can you fly the T-28 with the canopy open ?

    • Paul Daignault on April 15, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      All carrier operations were done with an open canopy in case of a water landing. The Dilbert Dunker trainer tied right into this. As for routine flying it was never done with an open canopy.

      • mliebman on April 15, 2018 at 6:33 pm

        Paul,

        You are absolutely right. However, at Barin Field, we taxied around with the canopy open. For FCLP practice, we would depart, close the canopy after we had the wheels and flaps up, join up and re-enter for the break. The break was at 500 feet and by the time we were going down wind, it was gear and flaps down, canopy open as we slowed to 82 knots. The touch and goes were canopy open because we were simulating the deck run.

        While at Whiting, in the summer, I often would taxi around with canopy open so I wouldn’t melt…

        marc

        • Charles Bice on July 5, 2022 at 10:37 am

          I went through in 58.

          The engine pulled 56.5 inches, we climbed at 40 inches and 140kias, cruised at 20-21 inches 180 kias, checked the mags at 30 inches, I think changed to high blower at 17 thou and if you missed blower engagement, waited 5 mins before retry. Used the POH as NATOPS hadn’t arrived. Precious memories!

          • Marc Liebman on July 10, 2022 at 10:23 am

            Charles,
            I still have my T-28 pocket NATOPS!!!! We changed to high blower at 16K… The T-28 was a really cool airplane and yes, the memories are precious and those who never flew it, misses flying a special plane.



    • Daniel Muller on May 21, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      Yes, in the summertime at Whiting field we often opened the canopy when we returning from the training area on a hot day.

      • mliebman on May 21, 2019 at 7:20 pm

        Daniel,
        Daniel,
        Thanx for your note. When I was a student in VT-2 in the fall of 1968, students were not allowed to open the canopy in flight except in emergencies. When we got to VT-5, we taxied and flew the FCLP’s with the canopy open. The only time at VT-5 when it was closed was when we were in transit from Saufley to Barin and to and from the boat. Later, as an instructor, I opened it in the summer if I had to sit at the end of the runway and wait for students to take off or land.

    • Scotty Roberts on June 26, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Went through Pensacola 1964-65. Upon returning from tour in Vietnam, flew them as instructor. Went with the airlines, and later when they were retired from service, bought, flew and loved my B-model until mandatory retirement from airline flying.

      Carrier qualified on USS Intrepid which is presently a museum in New York Harbor
      Scott Roberts
      BUNO 138340

      • mliebman on June 26, 2019 at 6:31 pm

        Scott,
        I was a few years after you. I went through Pensacola in 68-69 and CQ’d on the Lexington.
        marc

        • Mike Rowson on August 14, 2019 at 11:27 am

          Thoroughly enjoyed your step-by-step on the T-28. I’m guessing you didn’t split your head open during preflight on tie-down ring on left wing as I did prior to scheduled dual formation flight.

          I followed you by 5 years. My class in ‘73 was the first entire class to not land on the Lexington prior to our S-2, helo, or T-2 stage. P-3B, LC-130’s, plus two tours in T-44 as an instructor in Corpus and T-34 as pilot recruiter in StL.

      • Terry Purdy on May 5, 2022 at 3:40 pm

        Flew your bird June 22, 1966 at VT-3. Wore leather gloves so I left no fingerprints

        • Marc Liebman on May 8, 2022 at 8:02 am

          Coward!!! Several times, I tried to dent the runways. Glad you liked flying the T-28. Its a love affair that continues to today.

    • Scott LaVange ATN3 VT-2/VT-6 Dec 69-Mar 73 on July 3, 2023 at 12:26 pm

      That’s how you clean out the cockpit! My first hop the indtructor asked if I was strapped in and had any loose items. I said I was good to go. He went inverted and opened the canopy, thus cleaning out the cockpit!

      • Marc Liebman on July 3, 2023 at 1:09 pm

        Love it!!! I had a screamer in VT-1 who liked to throw stuff at the student in the front seat. His favorite item were kneeboards that the Navy was about to salvage, i.e. throwaway. Well, in the Precautionary Landing Proceedure, one of the things one did is open the canopy. We were over Perdido Bay, and the instructor tells me I have a simulated engine failure. I point the nose at the north shore which was closest, set up a glide down to 1,500 where I would then pick a field and do the approach. He’s screaming me all the things i should be doing – none of which were correct – but that was his style to see if he could rattle students. I just ignored him, trimmed up the airplane. He then threw a kneeboard at me. It bounced off my helmet and into my lap. I then keyed the mike, said, “Captain XXXX (he was a Marine), I have some FOD in the cockpit and tossed the kneeboard outside.”

        He didn’t say another word until I finished my PLP to 200 feet over a field and proceeded to wave it off. Then he said, “Take us back to Saufley.” I got all AAs – above average – on the hop and the next time I flew with him was on my VT-1 checkride and he was quiet as a church mouse other than to say, do this, do that.

  2. Joe O'Malley on May 24, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Dear Mr. Liebman,
    I enjoyed your story immensely; it brought back memories of my flights as a nav/cad in 1959/60. Carquald aboard the Antietam, and loved the T28 so much that I hitched a ride from NAS Corpus Christi to Pensacola and snag one last flight in the “Big Bear.’
    Now, much later in life, I’m looking forward to one more ride in a “Bravo’ based in Culpeper, Virginia.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Joe

    • mliebman on May 24, 2018 at 12:47 pm

      Joe,
      Am glad you liked it. And, I’m jealous that you are getting to fly in one again. What did you fly in the Navy?
      marc

  3. Terry Fulbright on August 12, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    I flew the T-28 during SNA training in 1964 and carrier qualified on the Lexington. I had orders to New Iberia for A-1 training but they closed that pipeline the day I CQd so I opted to stay in Pensacola for advanced training in helos at Ellyson Field. Wound up flying H-3s in the fleet and H-1 gunships in Vietnam. Had a chance to fly the T-28 a couple more times while a student at AMO school in Memphis. Loved it!

  4. Mike Louy, VT-2 5-68 - 5-71 on January 20, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Hello Marc,

    Thanks for your very informative description of flying the T-28. I did it twice, once going through initial flight training – VT-2 at Whiting North Field, then VT-3 at South Field, then VT-5 at Saufley for carrier quals. After a tours in HS-11 (shortened by my twice requested duty in Vietnam), and HA(L)-3, I requested VT-2 again. (Don’t throw me in the briar patch). Checking in I was assigned to Unit One (TPA) . I was also assigned my own T-28B – 2G-251, BUNO 138289. It was only one of four aircraft on the North line with TACAN. During my three years in VT-2 I had almost 800 hrs. in that one aircraft and a total of almost 1,500 in the T-28.

    It was a joy to fly. Not as fast at the A-model conversions that were about 300+ lighter and faster. After about a year flying that aircraft and while it was in maintenance check in the hangar, I wandered over to see what was happening “my airplane”. Talking to a Navy mech I learned that the sensitivity of the aileron could be increased by adjusting the moveable aileron rod plate up or down on its matching wing plate. I asked that mine be moved two notches more sensitive. That made the aircraft stability in roll quite a bit more responsive, but a little more difficult for students to maintain level flight.

    Marc, one thing you mentioned about entering the cockpit I used to caution students not to do – step on my new orange seat cushions with their oily soled boots. Just lean ALL the way in with their right leg onto the cockpit floor – short guys included! After the warning an oily footptint on my seat cushions by a student was a BA in HWK.

    In addition to all the flight maneuvers you explained there was one practiced by only a few of the experienced Trojan pilots – the Speed Brake Scream. Approaching the break at home field or anywhere for that matter, at 170 kts. you rolled into 30 degrees AOB while simultaneously reducing the pwr to 20″ and lowering the speed brake. Well, not exactly. You did all of that but just as the speed brake started to come down you increased AOB to 45 degrees and while momentarily pulling back on the stick to “make her scream”. Invariably when you “announced your arrival” guys on the ground would instinctively look up to see who did that. Some guys tried and tried but just couldn’t master the “secret trick” MORE BANK AND PULL. There, the secret is out for all you Trojan studs to give it a try the next opportunity you get.

    Several of the great things about having your “own” T-28 was that you didn’t have to wait for an airplane for your next “X”. That was particularly important when you were flying four flights a day in a push. It was also great when the squadron was flying on Saturdays to be able, with your Seawolf buddy who had 2G-241 an A conversion, to go out and fly formation acrobatics, then climb up to 10,000 ft. and hassle all the way down to 5,000 ft. before climbing up and doing it again. Always came home with the low fuel lights on.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Sadly the O’Club at Whiting where thousands of these happenings were told is long gone.

  5. Bill Krauza on January 21, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Was an instructor pilot at Whiting Field (VT-3, BI/RI unit), 1970-71 and compiled about 1200 hrs in the 28. Most fun thing I ever did in my life…………………..

    • Doug Smith ADR3 on August 2, 2022 at 7:22 pm

      I was a plane captain “night flyer” in VT-3 in 1970-72. We may have crossed paths. I was the guy waving the lighted wands to put you guys on the spots at night.
      As I recall, the marine students were the hardest to park.
      Once I had to throw my wands at the canopy after a marine student refused an emergency stop.
      Crossed wands.
      He was about to drop a wheel into a gas pit.
      He stopped, shut down, jumped out, and proceeded to punch me out.
      He wrote me up, but nothing ever happened to me.
      Never saw him again.
      T28’s were an awesome airplane.
      Flew in the backseat many times.

      • Marc Liebman on August 7, 2022 at 11:22 am

        Great story. I was never in VT-2, but I remember the plane captains directing us at night. Anyone willing to stand in front of whirling propeller blades and a solo student Naval/Marine Aviator has got my vote!!!

  6. Carl D Balhorn on May 2, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    Instructed in VT-5 from October ’69 to October ’71, as a SERGRAD. The best flying in my 23 year career. Great friends and awesome Skippers. Tried to get 100 traps on the LEX but feel just short. Two corrections to your grand story. Speed break out in the break at the ship. An Instructor always was Flight Leader to the LEX, we didn’t want anyone getting lost 100 miles from the beach. Thanks for the memories. V/R. Carl

    • Marc Liebman on May 5, 2022 at 2:21 pm

      Carl,
      Thanx for your comments. I don’t remember having an instructor with us on the way out. He may have been shadowing us, but I distinctly remember being dash-3. I spent two years as an instructor in VT-2 between trips to SEA and kept going out to VT-5 to cumshaw some traps. Got a that way and then they stopped sending Studs to the boat unless you were going to fly jets or E-2s or CODs.

      And yes, I agree, those were the best days of my flying career.

  7. Bill Ridge on July 19, 2022 at 2:54 pm

    Oh my gosh!!! You fellow T-28 pilots are not kidding, Instructor duty at VT-3 1971-72 was the most enjoyable time of all my flying. Student 66/67. As a “NAVCAD,” my Ensign date of rank was my Lexington debut (27OCT66), and what a joy it was that day too! 67/70 VAW-113 Plankowner in the “New” E-2A. But I ended up with over 1,000 hours in the T-28 behind that great engine!! During all those hours only had a couple of Sump lights, and once on a run-in of a newly rebuilt engine, I had white “airshow” smoke in the port exhaust that scared my Enlisted passenger, The engine never missed a beat as I climbed and turned downwind. It turned out to be a misplaced washer on one cylinder head valve cover that let it squirt oil on the exhaust pipe. In all that time, I’m proud to say that I completed 19 students. “Those WERE the days!!!”
    PS: Caution–opening the canopy also opens the rear section that can suck in exhaust!

    • Marc Liebman on July 24, 2022 at 10:55 am

      Bill,
      I have fewer hours in the T-28 than you and don’t know how many students I completed. When I was teaching, except for the initial transition hops, you were assigned students at random, more or less. I flew with many of them several times, but not through the whole syllabus. We rotated every so many months so we all got to teach transition, cross-country, basic and radio instruments and formation. I had a few sump lights and one that went from sump light to rough running to quitting in about 15 seconds. It swallowed a piston and the loudest sound was the gyros winding down. I was on a student solo and launched out of south field because North was closed for reasons I don’t remember. Anyway, I landed on I-10 before it was finished. It turned into a circus because they had to take the wings off so they could truck it back to Whiting. Also had a student forget to secure the cap on the oil tank and we had oil all over the airplane. He deservedly received a down and got to clean the airplane as well.

      Memories of a by gone era.

  8. Tom Curtis on August 23, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    Went through first summer of AVROC with you.

    • Marc Liebman on August 28, 2022 at 12:04 pm

      Tom,
      Oh wow…. What did you end up flying?

      marc

  9. Steve Robinson on November 15, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    Many of the T28s are still flying in private owners hands.
    I acquired BU 140016 in 2014 from a guy in Dallas and had shipped to Perth Australia.
    Not before my son and I did our flight training in her at Florida with an ex Navy instructor.
    Despite fitting clean kits, oil shut off valves and scavenge pumps the plane still leaks oil, in varying quantities and on starting usually manages to make a mess of it self.
    Myself and my two sons love the plane, it’s a labour of love to keep it running properly and I’m lucky to have some great Mtc guys at my field who share the love of big old radials.
    Ours is a stock T28B unchanged ,other than radios, from when it was discharged in 1984.
    Met a few old navy flyers in Fl while doing our training there, some had a tear in their eye to see an original machine.
    I treat her bit more gently, than she probably was in her Navy career. She is into her late 60s now and enjoys a comfortable retirement in with visits to airshows and pleasure flying on nice days.
    Thanks for the article, it’s great to hear the recollections of the guys who flew them in the Navy.

    • Marc Liebman on November 20, 2022 at 1:10 pm

      Wow… I am jealous!!! I have several of her sisters with bureau numbers that are close, i.e. 140002, 140005, 140008 and 140009 and 140020, in my log book. Treat her well.

  10. Rick Taylor on April 29, 2023 at 8:21 am

    Well I am a “Johnny Come Lately” to this site and I see the original post is nearly ten years old. Still I really enjoyed reading it and the responses.

    I went through Saufley and Whiting in ’75-’76 as a young Ensign then Ltjg prior to flying HH52 helicopters in the Coast Guard. I really enjoyed the T-28 and it remains one of my favorite aircraft. Two specific experiences in that aircraft stick out. The first occured when my instructor on one of our first flights said “Strap in tight, put your hands on your lap and I am going to show you something you will never see again.” I did so and from straight and level cruise he went to full power and the aircraft torque rolled. He was right. I never torque rolled any other aircraft since. The second event occured while on a night BI (Basic Insrument) flight over the pine forests around Pensacola. Pitch black below, above 10,000 feet, when the engine started to miss. The instructor turned towards Whiting and has me start to read through the bailout check list. Right down to fastening the lanyard. I remember thinking how cool is this! I get to bail out! What a story that will be at happy hour! Keep in mind I was 24 and fearless. Fortunately the engine smoothed out and we made an uneventful PEL (Precautionary Emergancy Landing) back at Whiting. We figured later that the fuel had contamination and we were taking slugs of water through the carburetor. All is well that ends well.

    Thanks for posting this Marc!

    • Marc Liebman on April 30, 2023 at 10:01 am

      So, while I was in VT-2, I had an engine failure on takeoff from the south field. I don’t remember why the north side was closed so we taxied down there. Anyway, it was 1969 and I-10 was still being built. The engine failed seconds after take off going from rough runner to the propeller at parade rest. I can tell you when this happens, the loudest noise in the cockpit is the attitude gyro winding down. Anyway, to make a long story short, I lined up on I-10, lowered the gear and flaps and landed. This was back in the days before cell phones, so they sent a maintenance guy out thinking a dumb student over reacted. When he arrived about two hours after I touched down and pulled the sump plug, there were large chunks of metal. They had to take the wings off, put it on a flatbed and bring it back to Whiting. If nothing else, it gave the construction workers something to tell their families about and I got a ride back to Whiting in Florida State Police car.

  11. Jack Flanagan on June 14, 2023 at 12:20 am

    Really interesting writing and commentaries about the T-28 aircraft. I went through the Basic Prop pipeline with VT-3 in 1973, and was in one of the last CQ classes at VT-5. After that I manged to transition to jets with VT-25 at NAS Beeville. In that post Vietnam period in 1974, there were few “fleet seats” and I flew T-34Bs at VT-1 and then T-28s as an instructor at NAF Washington at Andrews AFB before I finally got back into jets. Like everyone else who ever flew them it seems, I found the T-28 to be the most challenging, the most fun aircraft to fly. It was pure pilot flying.
    I certainly can’t match the dead-stick landing on I-10 story!

    • Marc Liebman on June 15, 2023 at 1:45 pm

      Thanx for your note. I’m jealous!!!! I went to VT-2 only because there were problems with the T-2s and there was a backlog. All of us were assured when we checked in that if we do well, we could get jets either at Kingsville or Beeville. After I CQ’d, they sent most of us (the top 25) to HT-8, a couple of guys got multi-engine and two got jets. Neither of the guys who got jets finished!!!

      And yes, the T-28 was the most fun airplane I’ve ever flown.

      BTW, what did you fly in the fleet?

  12. Tim Leighton on August 12, 2023 at 8:51 am

    Great reads! Newby here. Went through Basic with VT-3/Whiting in mid-1976, after everyone CQ’d at VT-5 and before it was brought back in 1977 (?) for a short time for the E-2/C-2/C-1 destined SNA’s. Loved flying the T-28 although it took me a while to get used to starting that beast. Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time! I did get to be in one of the very last classes to fly 4-plane form. What a hoot and although we all thought we looked like the Blue Angels, I’m sure it was closer to the Keystone Cops! Couple humorous stories:
    On a night RI hop (the ones where we flew at higher altitudes on simulated airways and shot simulated approaches), my IP told me that he would be glad to take the airplane any time I needed while I worked on nav, the log, etc. Nice guy! All he wanted was for me to tel him exactly what I wanted him to do, airspeed, altitude, heading/VOR radial, etc. at one point as asked him to do just that and give him instructions on what I wanted. It is night and, of course, I’m under the bag but at one point, something just didn’t feel quite right as I had my head buried in the cockpit doing something with my wiz wheel. I asked the IP what was going on and he had me pop the hood back. As I did so, I could see us just completing a barrel roll. Most here will know that a barrel roll, properly performed, is a 1G maneuver (Bob Hoover did it in his Shrike Commander while pouring water into a glass!). The IP’s response was classic: “You didn’t say anything about straight and level!”
    Fast forward to the early 1980’s and I’ve returned to the training command from my nugget tour with VAW-125 and I’m in VT-31, flying the T-44. Next door was VT-27, still flying T-28’s and I had a number of great friends over there working their asses off with airframes that were getting really tired. One evening as I was standing SDO duties I heard the crash alarm go off. A T-28 with a SERGRAD IP on a night BI flight had aborted his takeoff with an engine fire but after he was actually airborne! Landed so had that all 3 landing gear collapsed. Everyone got out fine. Some may have guess here but it turned out that what he thought was a fire was actually the flames from the engine at high power. He chopped the power and landed just a bit hard. Many years later during my second career with American Airlines, I unknowingly flew with that same guy and when I realized we were both in Corpus Christi at the same time and he at VT-27, brought the subject of that incident up. Turns out that over 20 years later, that accident still bothered him and he admonished me to never bring it up again! Would love to get just one more ride in a T-28…

    • Marc Liebman on August 13, 2023 at 10:01 am

      Thanx for the note and kind words. I have so many memories of flying the T-28, it is hard to write them all down. It was a joy to fly and the closest plane to a true Warbird I’d ever fly. I never did a barrel roll with a student in the back, but I did do a bunch of ACM with students in the front and me flying. As an instructor, i never flew a hop with a student that was less than the mandated time unless he was really, really bad and I as about to give him a down, or the weather was yukky or we had a rare mechanical problem.

      I did have a student not close the oil tank cap. Not only did he get a down and a short flight, but he had to clean up the mess. I can also tell you that when the engine quits in a T-28 and the prop is at parade rest, the loudest noise in the cockpit is the gyro winding down.

      did you fly the E-2 in the fleet? And where are you based with AA?

  13. Mike Collett on September 7, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    Marc,

    Took me a while to discover this thread–thanks for the memories!

    Went through the pipeline in ’68-69 in from AOCS class 25-68 (VT-1, VT-3) and then to VT-5 with all the fond memories of “Bloody Barin.” The Lex was down for maintenance when we did our carrier quals–were flown out to the Independance, CV62, in a COD. You had your Dad’s silk scarf; I had my diving knife and my facemask strapped to my leg in case I had to ditch.

    On a T-28 solo I was out doing loops (over Santa Rosa Bay?) and had a chips light at the top of the loop. Finished the loop and immediately turned toward Chocktaw OLF and declared an emergency. I was escorted to the field by two F4’s from Eglin who heard my radio call on 243 Mhz. I decided that if the rubber band stopped anytime soon I would ditch alongside the beach rather than bail out–or do a wheels-up on the beach. I figured that was the safer option and they could possibly figure out what caused the chips light.

    The engine kept running –temps and pressures normal– so I did a textbook PEL at Chocktaw and taxied off the runway–was met by the fire truck with a guy in an aluminum suit pointing the foam cannon at me. I stood up in the cockpit and raised my arms and yelled “Don’t shoot!” The guy was not amused.

    I climbed down and put in the gear pins and waited for an instructor pilot and maint. officer to fly out to get me.

    They pulled the magnetic sump plug and discovered a piece of safety wire across the sump plug chips light contacts. They decided the aircraft was safe to fly so swapped aircraft with me. They took off first–forgot the gear pins!– and the LSO noticed the red flags flying under the wheel wells and put a red flare across their nose. They continued the takeoff and flew back to Whiting with the gear down. The flare landed in the grass and started a fire. Now the guy in the aluminum suit had something to do. While he was busy putting out the fire I beat feet out of there.

    Car quals in the Independance in the T-28 was the highlight of the entire pipeline. We were flown back off the ship in the COD with the LSO accompanying us and reading off our graded passes and traps as we flew back. My first cat shot (in the “tube” of the COD.)

    I went multi-engine at VT-27 at Corpus and went back to the Independence for carrier quals in the TS-2A. Now, that was exciting…

    Got stuck on the Independence for a week with a bad generator in the TS-2… was a while before they could fly a replacement out to us. No money, only our zoom bags. My flying partner won some money from the LSO in a poker game so we could buy some clean underwear to enjoy our week roaming about the ship. Fun times.

    Second cat shot was in the TS-2A in the front seat with a new generator. Then I picked something to fly that was too big to fit on a carrier. (Wanted P-3’s from the get-go.)

    Ended up in P-3’s at Moffett. TWO great airplanes to fly: T-28 (my all-time favorite) and the P-3 (close second.)

    I, too, still have my green T-28 “mini-NATOPS” flip chart on my Navy-issue knee board. I show it to colleagues in CAP flying 182’s and 206’s and show them the checklist showing MAP settings for full military power–they just shake their heads.

    Onward and upward!

    Mike (VP-50)

    • Marc Liebman on September 10, 2023 at 11:43 am

      Mike,
      I had to laugh about your experience at Choctaw and the flare fired at the instructor. Wonder if they got a down or BAW when they landed at Whiting. When did you start at VT-1. I arrived in June 68….

  14. Marcus Mahy on November 17, 2023 at 2:03 am

    Marc, really enjoyed reading your notes on flying the T28. This morning I had my first flight in a T28B and remembered all of your great advice and it really helped..I have to say that the aircraft is one of my favourites of all time to fly. If it doesn’t put a smile on your face then you’re in the wrong job! Cheers. Marcus. Queensland, Australia.

    • Marc Liebman on November 17, 2023 at 5:14 pm

      Marcus,
      I’m jealous. Just remember your left hand is tied to your right foot. Left hand goes forward, so does you right foot. Also, I got to the point where I could fly a T-28 on a cross-country, GCA or an ILS with the trim tabs.

      All I can say is enjoy!!!

  15. William Jowell on January 8, 2024 at 9:14 pm

    Began flying a 1952 170B when I was 15. Had to fly jets on/off a carrier. Joinned up in December 1958 and the most fun EVER was flying the T-28
    No experience before not sense better!

    Was in first class to use the meatball!
    William

    • Marc Liebman on January 12, 2024 at 9:09 pm

      Cool. i look back and CQ in a T-28 was one of the highlights of my career in Naval Aviation.

      • ray asgar on April 24, 2024 at 1:17 pm

        What a nice way to describe, my most favourite plane I ever flown.
        Naval air station Whiting field 1975.
        Thanks

        • Marc Liebman on April 28, 2024 at 10:39 am

          Thanx. To an aviation romantic who would have loved to fly the piston engined fighters of WW2, flying the T-28 was a dream come true!!

  16. Richard Taber on April 22, 2024 at 10:15 pm

    Marc–
    Great read, and brings back some great memories.

    I went through NTTC Memphis as an E2 in late 77, completed AD(J) self-paced school and ended up near top of class, was offered a seat in the last ADR class ever (actual classroom training, not the self-paced crap) and took it. Finished at the top of that class too and when the available orders were posted, picked VT-6, Whiting Field.

    Wasn’t sure I made the right pick at first; when I got there (after the usual Temp Duty assignments) I was assigned to the move and wash crew. Spent the winter washing T-28s, then moving them, walking wings, then got qualed as as a brake rider, then tow tractor driver, then tow director.

    Then Plane Captain, working on the line, taking fuel samples and getting drenched in 114/145. Eventually an opening came up in Powerplants, so I actually got to do the work I was trained to do. Given the fact that I had been working on mechanical devices since I was a kid, everything went pretty smoothly from there on. I was soon QA qualed, engine run (low power and shortly thereafter, high power qualed).

    When a spot came up, I was selected to be a Flight Mech. There were two of us in the Powerplant shop (for engine issues), one for airframe issues, one for electrical issues. (Engine guys got the most calls, mostly due to chip lights.) We got Flight Pay ($55/month IIRC) and had to get 4 hours/month to receive that pay. With all the chips lights, never had a problem logging those hours. The Airframe and Elec dudes, on the other hand…

    When you had a chips light and landed at Saufley or Dothan or any of the other outlying fields, I (or my buddy/roommate Bob) got the call. Packed up a toolbox and some parts, jumped in the back seat with a qualified test pilot, we flew to the stricken craft and gave them ours to fly home…then I fixed the broken one. It was our ride home. One time the engine was actually seized, did an engine change in the field. Other than that, about an hour and we were homeward bound.

    We would do a one-hour test flight on the way home, and sign it off (the only maintenance that wasn’t actually signed off before the a/c took flight). Much of that ride home was spent up-side down, or with the instructor letting me go hands-on and teaching me a bit about flying a T-28. Some of the sloppiest barrel rolls ever, for sure…also some of the best times of my life. Truly exceptional pilots and men; my sincere thanks to the fact that they treated me, just an enlisted idiot, as a real guy worthy of their time and attention. Speaks volumes about their character and their love of flying.

    I’ll never forget the first time the pilot asked the tower for an unrestricted climb. I wondered, what is this? Soon find out…accelerate, lift off, raise gear/flaps and maintain about 50 ft while continuing to accelerate. At the departure end of the runway, pilot buries the stick in his hip pocket…I wasn’t watching the g-meter, but I did get a glance at the altimeter. We hit 1600 feet in about 3 seconds…that was a ride.

    When I arrived at Whiting in early 78, there were probably 200 T-28s and two T-34Cs…3 1/2 years later the T-34s had multiplied (like rabbits), the T-28s were disappearing and the trend line was clear…the T-28s were a dying breed.

    When that enlistment was up, I went forward with a career as a P-3 Flight Engineer. The P-3 was a great aircraft, and that was the greatest job for an enlisted man in the US Navy. And again, I spent the next 17 years in the company of exceptional Naval Aviators.

    But the T-28 was better. 🙂

    Anyway, I enjoyed all those times and am so grateful that I got to experience them. Thanks again for letting me re-live those memories.

    Long life and health to all of you who fondly remember the T-28.

    All that said, one or two corrections, from my memory:

    One–Engine starts: After 12 blades, tickle the primer button (press/release, press/release) before turning on the mags. Turning on the mags without primer invited a big bang (backfire) which was an engine inspection (did lots of them, esp during cold weather). As soon as the engine fires, hold down on the primer continually, then move the mixture to full rich; when the engine coughs, release the primer. Then set the rpm to 1200.

    Two–Takeoff power was 2720 rpm (not 2500). The takeoff stops were 48″ and 52.5″ (Military and Max Power)–either way, the prop governor was dictating rpm, and we set them at 2720 rpm–only the MAP changed with the further throttle advancement.

    Throttle settings for acro were 24/36–2400 rpm, 36″ MAP. Again, this was circa 1979-80-81. May have been different earlier.

    It is possible that things had changed some…when I was there the g limits were 4.5 pos and 2.5 neg. I imagine that the airframes were capable of higher g forces earlier in their lives.

    Do you remember the Kiwi bird down at the end of the line? That was a T-28 that had been badly overstressed (and if you had the opportunity to open the baggage compartment and look at the internal structure, you would have shivered)… and someone came up with the idea of a bailout trainer. I have a somewhat funny/tragic story about that bird…email me if interested rich at rabid jackal dot com

    Best regards, Rich in TX

    • Marc Liebman on April 28, 2024 at 11:22 am

      Rich,
      I would love to hear the story about how the bailout bird came about.
      I happen to have a NATOPS manual at my finger tips. So, to save engines, take-off power was restricted to 48 inches to save wear and tear on the engines, rpm was whatever one could get up to 2,700. 52.5 inches of manifold pressure was allowed, but limited to 5 minutes. G limits were, at 8,000 lbs. +5 and -2 unless one had external ordnance which when I went through the training command, the gunnery and bombing portion of the T-28 syllabus had been eliminated. RATS!!!

      You’re correct in that it was 12 blades…. I remember only counting to 7…. Oh well. I’ve slept and had an adult beverage since then. Thanx for your comments.

  17. John McGrail on May 4, 2024 at 10:39 am

    Love this thread! I went through primary at Whiting in 1977 and flew the T-28 in VT-3. One of the greatest experiences in my aviation career, bar none! When I was reassigned to VT-3 as an instructor in’82 they were all retired and we flew the T-34 turbo. Nice little airplane but the T-28 was just a wonderful beast to fly. I wish I could afford one.

  18. John McGrail on May 4, 2024 at 10:45 am

    I Love this thread! I went through primary training at Whiting in VT-3 in 1977 and had the pleasure and joy of flying the T-28. One of the most memorable experiences of my aviation career, bar none! When I was assigned to VT-3 as an instructor in ‘82 they had been retired and we flew the T-34 turbo. Nice little airplane but nothing compared to the T-28. A beautiful beast to fly.

    • Marc Liebman on May 5, 2024 at 10:47 am

      I wish I could afford one as well. I’ve looked and it wasn’t the operating costs which are stout, but the maintenance

  19. Roger Armstrong on May 14, 2024 at 12:34 pm

    Hello Mark,
    T-28 also my all time favorite to fly as well. CQ March 1966 so it’s been awhile. I went to helos & did a tour with HC-7 out of Atsugi. In fact the T-28C I CQ’d with was bought from the boneyard out west by an individual in PA and beautifully restored. It was still flying in PA a few years ago. Really enjoyed this thread.
    Now a question. I attempting to help an X-Plane 12 developer with a question. Was a blower check (momentary shift to hi-blower) done before take off. If it was, at what RPM was it done, and did RPM drop any, if so how much?
    It was a long time ago for me & I do not have access to a NATOPS manual.

  20. Roger Armstrong on May 16, 2024 at 1:35 pm

    Just found this site. Amazing. CQ March 1968, Went on to helos with HC-7, but the T-28 was & still is my favorite while I was in the Navy. (and still to this day)

    Now a question. Does anyone remember when doing a hi blower check prior to T/O, at what RPM was the shift to hi-blower made, and how much did RPM drop when hi-blower was engaged during the test?

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