Seventeen pilots from Training Squadron Six (VT-6) and 14 pilots from Training Squadron Two (VT-2) evacuated Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla., and flew to Millington Regional Jetport, Tenn., on Aug. 27 in preparation for Hurricane Isaac.
Rodney Hendrix, Executive Director of Millington Airport Authority, said they received a call over the weekend indicating that the aircraft would be heading their way.
The squadrons left the gulf area to keep themselves and their 31 T-6B Texan II aircraft safe from potential high winds, heavy rain and flooding. The training squadrons are two of many from Pensacola that provides training for Navy and Marine Corps pilots.
Millington Regional Jetport is a convenient choice for squadrons escaping coastal regions, said Hendrix. The Jetport has a military fuels contract allowing pilots to refuel easily and there is plenty of ramp space. The Jetport is located adjacent to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South, which is home to Naval Personnel Command and Navy Recruiting Command.
Right now it is unknown how long the pilots will be in Millington.
In addition to VT-6 and VT-2 evacuating, NATTC evacuated all of their squadrons and close to 4,500 students Monday afternoon. Squadrons and students were sent to safe locations across the country to wait out Hurricane Isaac.
Mike Melillo, the Air Traffic Manager of Millington Regional Jetport, said it’s been about two years since the squadrons have evacuated from coastal areas and used Millington Regional Jetport to ride out a severe storm. The biggest and most memorable of all was when hurricane Katrina hit.
During Hurricane Katrina, Millington housed 120 helicopters, 104 T-34 Mentor, four C-130 Hercules and several T-39 Sabreliners.
Before Millington was decommissioned in 1995, it was the largest inland naval air station in the world, housing about 44,000 personnel at its peak. It dates back to World War I, when the U.S. Army created Park Field as a training ground for air and ground crews.
Naval Today Staff, August 29, 2012; Image: Navy