A comprehensive study of the training aircraft used to transition the United States military into the jet age. At the end of World War II, high-performance jets with unfamiliar operating characteristics were replacing propeller-driven airplanes. As accident rates soared, the Air Force and Navy recognized the need to develop new trainers to introduce fledgling as well as experienced pilots to jet flight. The first step occurred in 1948, when a two-seat jet trainer, the T-33, was developed with private funds. It was welcomed by the Air Force and subsequently the Navy, allowing both services to start building modern air arms. Over time other new trainers were developed to serve specific needs while innovations, such as high fidelity simulators, accelerated the process, reduced costs, and increased safety. The evolution continues today with the goal of producing high-quality newly winged aviators for assignment to operational squadrons.
Mark Frankel is retired from the automotive industry. He studied aeronautical engineering at Cornell University and graduated from the Wharton School and Law School at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as a trial lawyer in the Navy JAG Corps during Vietnam. An avid aviation enthusiast since childhood, he soloed at the age of 17 and earned his private pilot license in 1970. He has written three books on aircraft of the Cold War-era. Tommy Thomason is retired from the aerospace industry where he served as an aeronautical engineer, flight test engineer, and executive. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering and earned graduate degrees from the University of Southern California and Harvard. His pilot ratings include airline transport, certified flight instructor, and glider. He has accumulated over 3,000 hours of flight time and has written eight aviation books.