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The T-2 Buckeye

Overview

North American developed the T-2 in 1958 as a primary jet trainer for the U.S. Navy. It first flew on January 31, 1958. North American produced 609 T-2 Buckeyes.[i] The U.S. Navy retired the Buckeye in 2008. T-2s trained over 11,000 pilots.[ii] They were also exported to Greece, Morocco, and Venezuela.[iii] As of February 2021 there is one T-2 in active service. It belongs to the Hellenic Air Force.


[i] Globalsecurity.org, T2J-1 / T-2 Buckeye, T2J-l / T-2 Buckeye (globalsecurity.org), last accessed 2/9/21. North American changed its name to North American Rockwell and in 1973 changed its name to Rockwell International.

[ii] Boeing.com, Boeing: Historical Snapshot: T-2 Buckeye, last accessed 2/2/21.

[iii] Arsenal of Democracy by Tom Gervasi, © 1977 by Tom Gervasi and Bob Adelman.

In Service

North American delivered the first of the Buckeyes to the U.S. Navy July 9, 1959.[i] From 1973 through 1977 Rockwell International delivered 24 T-2Ds to the Venezuelan Air Force. In 1976 and 1977 Rockwell International delivered 40 T-2Es to the Hellenic Air Force.[ii] In 1975 Rockwell sold 20 T-2Es to Morocco. Rockwell did not publicly announce the Moroccan sale.[iii]

There were at least 24 T-2 crashes. This includes 7 Hellenic Air Force and 2 Venezuelan Air Force Buckeyes. The first crash was a Hellenic Air Force T-2E, serial number 160078, in 1970. There were no fatalities.[iv]

On September 28, 1974 a Venezuelan Air Force T-2D crashed while performing at an airshow. The T-2 crashed into a small residential building. The crash killed both crew members and at least 2 people on the ground.[v]

On October 22, 1986 two Buckeyes collided. One T-2 made it safely to NAS Pensacola. The other crew ejected. The student pilot survived but the instructor, Lt. (j.g.) Michael R. Thompson was killed.[vi]

On April 13, 1989 two U.S. Navy T-2Cs crashed. One crew ejected safely. The crew members of the other T-2 died in the crash.[vii] The U.S. Navy lost Buckeyes on May 19, July 13, and August 8. An aviator was killed in the July 13 crash.[viii]

On October 30, 1989 Ensign Stephen Pontell crashed in a T-2 while attempting his first carrier landing. Ensign Pontell was killed as were Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Burnett Kilgore Jr., Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Timmy L. Garroutte, Airman Lisa L. Mayo and Dyncorp employee Byron Gervis Courvelle. There were two serious and 17 minor injuries.[ix]

The Buckeye was known for its safety and reliability but was showing its age by the mid-90s. In 1997 the U.S. Navy grounded the T-2 fleet 3 times for safety reasons.[x] The last U.S. Navy T-2 crash was on January 6, 1999. There were no fatalities.[xi]

On July 17, 2003 eight student aviators landed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). It was the last carrier qualification flights for the Buckeye.[xii]

On January 3, 2018 a Hellenic Air Force Buckeye crashed. There were no fatalities. On August 29, 2018 a Hellenic Air Force T-2 crashed. The crash killed the pilot Squadron Leader Nikolaos Vasileiou. The co-pilot ejected safely.[xiii]


[i] Globalsecurity.org, T2J-1 / T-2 Buckeye, T2J-l / T-2 Buckeye (globalsecurity.org), last accessed 2/9/21.

[ii] Globalsecurity.org, T2J-1 / T-2 Buckeye, T2J-l / T-2 Buckeye (globalsecurity.org), last accessed 2/9/21. North American changed its name to North American Rockwell and in 1973 changed its name to Rockwell International.

[iii] Arsenal of Democracy by Tom Gervasi, © 1977 by Tom Gervasi and Bob Adelman.

[iv] Aviation Safety.net, Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety WikiBase > ASN Aviation Safety Database results (aviation-safety.net), last accessed 2/9/2021.

[v] Aviation Safety.net, Accident North American T-2D Buckeye 7532, 28 Sep 1974 (aviation-safety.net), last accessed 2/9/21. There were various reports. One put the death toll on the ground at 8.

[vi] Aviation Safety.net. Accident North American T-2B Buckeye 155223 , 22 Oct 1986 (aviation-safety.net), last accessed 2/9/21.

[vii] Aviation Safety.net Mid-air collision Incident North American T-2C Buckeye 159724, 13 Apr 1989 (aviation-safety.net), last accessed 2/9/21.

[viii] Aviation Safety.net, Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety WikiBase > ASN Aviation Safety Database results (aviation-safety.net), last accessed 2/9/21.

[ix] Lexington crash occurred when pilot flew too low by David Tortorano, Lexington crash occurred when pilot flew too low - UPI Archives, last accessed 2/2/21.

[x] Teton Aviation Center, T-2 Buckeye, North American T-2 Buckeye - Teton Aviation Center, last accessed 2/9/21.

[xi] Aviation Safety.net, Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety WikiBase > ASN Aviation Safety Database results (aviation-safety.net), last accessed 2/9/21.

[xii] Global Security.org, T2J-1 / T-2 Buckeye, T2J-l / T-2 Buckeye (globalsecurity.org),last accessed 2/9/21.

[xiii] Hellenic Air Force T-2E Buckeye Trainer Aircraft Crashes Killing Pilot, Hellenic Air Force T-2E Buckeye Trainer Aircraft Crashes Killing Pilot - DefPost, last accessed 2/2/21.

T-2 Buckeye Stats

Source: Arsenal of Democracy by Tom Gervasi, © 1977 by Tom Gervasi and Bob Adelman.

Weight

13,799 lbs

6,272 kgs

Speed

540 mph

860 kph

Ordinance Capacity

3,500 lbs.

1,600 kgs

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Robert Sacchi

Comments

Robert Sacchi (author) on February 13, 2021:

Thank you for reading and commenting The 11,000 trained pilots is impressive. I wish there was more readily available information on the aircraft. Maybe someone who has experience on the Buckeye will share.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 13, 2021:

Your statistics of the 11,000 pilots trained on that airplane speak for themselves. It was obviously used primarily for that purpose.

Robert Sacchi (author) on February 13, 2021:

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Robert Sacchi (author) on February 13, 2021:

That's a good question. On the one hand the pilots in training lack the experience. On the other hand trainers, like the Buckeye, tend to be more forgiving. Even experienced pilots make mistakes, sometimes through overconfidence. There are also accidents that are beyond the control of the pilot. It would be interesting to see an actual study on the matter. It does seem frontline fighters have a higher accident rate.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 13, 2021:

This is an interesting review of the Buckeye. Would you say that accidents are more likely in a training aircraft due to inexperienced pilots?

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