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Navy confirms pilot training in Roswell

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U.S. Navy pilots aboard the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, prepare to fly a T-6B Texan aircraft in February 2018. Photo is courtesy of Anne Booher, U.S. Navy. (Submitted Photo)

Some city staff and local businesses are preparing for the return of the “blue and gold.”

The U.S. Navy has confirmed that about 100 military pilots will train at the Roswell International Air Center starting in late January.

“Training Air Wing (CTW) 4 is scheduled to conduct a primary multi-service pilot training detachment in Roswell beginning at the end of January for approximately two months,” Lt. Michelle Tucker said in an email. “This will include around 20 to 25 T-6B Texan turboprop aircraft and approximately 100 student naval aviators.”

Tucker indicated that the training will help the military meet its needs for fleet aviators.

About 40 pilots and 45 aircraft maintainers, or mechanics, are expected along with the student pilots, who will be involved in basic flight training before receiving future assignments.

The Navy last trained here in 2016, according to Air Center Director Scott Stark. Newspaper articles indicate that 2016 was the training command’s third time at the Roswell airfield.

Fog in the Corpus Christi, Texas, area can make flying difficult during the early months of the year, Starks said, so the Navy typically chooses to train in either Las Cruces or Roswell from late January to late March.

The pilots are expected to fly about 150 training operations during their time here, and the Roswell area is expected to benefit in several ways, including from money spent on lodging, meals and transportation; aircraft fuel; and possibly hangar rental. Training unit members estimated the value of their spending in the area at about $1 million in 2015, according to press reports.

The Chief of Naval Air Training (CNAT) website indicates that the Training Air Wing 4 is one of five training wings under the CNAT command and that the four units in the training wing consist of about 800 personnel and 180 aircraft and simulators.

“As an Air Force veteran we are proud to host them,” said Air Center Manager Mark Bleth, “and I hope the community thanks them for their service and being here at Roswell.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.