Trainer Aircraft: T-38 Talon and others

The most common planes seen flying around the Edwards area are these trainers.  Here at Edwards, these planes are used almost exclusively as "chase planes" and have been in the skies of the Mojave Desert since the 1960's; making them the one aircraft that has been flying here the longest.

These chase planes follow and help out the test pilots of experimental aircraft.  In the Air Force, the main role of a trainer is just that: to train future pilots.  But here at Edwards, these stable and easy to fly aircraft are crucial in helping with the flight testing of aircraft that have never flown before.

Edwards is now using some F-16's as chase planes, too, and the neighboring NASA Dryden Flight Research Center uses a couple of modified Navy F-18's when conducting NASA experimental flights.

A popular trainer used in the Air Force is the T-38 (right).  Many Air Force pilots got to experience breaking the sound barrier for their first time in a T-38.  The plane on the left is a new type of trainer that is undocumented at this time.
A close up view of the T-38.  The fighter version of this same airplane is the F-5 and was used in the Vietnam War.  Most trainers have two seats - one for the instructor and one for the student - but in a chase plane, these seats are used for a pilot and an observer.
Front view of a T-38.
Close up of the cockpit of the T-38.
Font view of the new trainer (also seen in the first picture).

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