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George R Blair Jr
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T-41 Mescalero Walk Around

January 12, 2019 · in Photo Collections · · 3 · 1.9K

The subject of these photos is probably a little obscure, but there have been a couple of models from Minicraft, PM, and others. My wife was a military instructor pilot who was assigned from 1986 to 1990 at Hondo Airfield just west of San Antonio, Texas. This was the home of the US Air Force Flight Screening Program at the time. The purpose of this program was to take zero flight time (or very low flight time) pilot candidates & determine if they had the academic and flight aptitude to succeed in Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training. The idea was to eliminate candidates who could not function in a high pressure environment using a training platform whose hourly cost was a fraction of what jet hours cost. After about 15 hours of flying time in a T-41, it was possible to determine if a student pilot could function in an aircraft, as well as if they had a tendency to air sickness. The T-41, essentially a Cessna 172, flew low, slow, and made for a very bumpy ride. The flight program at the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs used the T-41 also. The T-41 was replaced by the Slingsby T-3A Firefly, which was then replaced by the Diamond DA20. I understand the Air Force Academy still uses a few of the T-41s. When I went through Flight Screening at Hondo in 1976, I was a First Lieutenant coming from a unit that operated Tactical Surveillance Radar. I had no flight military flight time when I went, in fact, I had never even been a passenger in an airliner. As advertised, it was extremely challenging, but was a good preview for my year flying jets in pilot training.

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3 responses

  1. Is Hondo Airfield still operational? My 87 year old father flew Cubs and T-6's in the early 50's at that airport. Prior to moving on to F-89's.

  2. The F-89 is one of my most favorite aircraft. Hondo Airfield has been a civilian airport for some time. It was built during WW2 by the Air Corps and was used as a navigator training base. The Women Army Service Pilots (WASPs) were moved there in 1943. The base was closed in late 1945 and turned over to the city of Hondo, but was used by civilian contractors who were training pilots for the Air Force. The Flight Screening Program was run by contractors, but had a few military instructors there to give check rides and provide administration for the program. This is what my wife was doing when she was there. When the T-41s were there, they would set up an RSU (Runway Supervisory Unit) during flight ops. The RSU was a small mobile tower that would control the T-41s in the flight pattern. Civilian aircraft using the field were asked to contact the RSU when they entered the pattern, but the field was uncontrolled by a civilian control tower. I haven't been out to Hondo for a couple of years, but there didn't appear to be a lot of flight ops going on. Flight Screening and the Air Force haven't been at Hondo since the early 2000s.

  3. Interesting and useful info and photos, thanks for sharing.

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