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Military aviators returning to Roswell

Pilot training by a U.S. Navy training wing is scheduled to begin at the Roswell Air Center on Tuesday. This photo of the T-6B Texan II planes from February 2018 is courtesy of Anne Booher, U.S. Navy. (Submitted Photo)

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In an economic boost for the area, the city of Roswell is preparing for more military pilot training at the Roswell Air Center.

A detachment from the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) from the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, plans to spend 12 to 16 days at the Roswell Air Center starting Tuesday to provide basic training to military aviators.

A public affairs officer with CNATRA said that two squadrons will be in Roswell, the “Boomers” of Training Squadron (VT) 27 and the “Rangers” of VT-28.

According to Anne Owens, deputy public affairs officer and photographer, each squadron is sending a group of about 40 student pilots and instructor pilots.

The squadrons also will be flying in eight T-6B Texan II aircraft, Owens said. Scott Stark, director of the Roswell Air Center, said that about 25 maintenance and integrated technology support personnel also are expected.

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“Their goal is to get 472 sorties out of it,” Stark said. “With the way they normally work, they probably will exceed that. Most every time they come, they do. We are ready to welcome them and excited to have them.”

The Navy training group has done training at the Roswell Air Center several times before, including in February 2020. They come here in the early months of the year because fog and other weather conditions off the coast of Texas from January to April can limit the available windows for training flights. Roswell typically has clear and sunny weather during that period, allowing instructors and students to fit in more sorties each day and complete their training goals earlier. Previously flight instructors also have said that the Roswell airfield’s long runways and relatively light air traffic makes it a good training spot.

“We are returning to Roswell so students can continue to progress through their primary flight training requirements in more favorable seasonal weather conditions than our home station of Corpus Christi, Texas,” said Owens. “Training Air Wing 4 and CNATRA always appreciate Roswell’s hospitality and are grateful for the city’s continued support as we train the next generation of naval aviators.”

In previous years, the trainees represented various branches of the U.S. military, and sometimes they were able to meet with local students interested in aviation, as well as with local business leaders. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the group will not be doing that this year, Owens said.

In addition to other benefits of having the squadrons in the area, the Navy training provides an economic benefit to the city. Squadrons buy aircraft fuel locally, and the pilots and support personnel occupy hotel rooms, eat at restaurants and frequent other Roswell businesses.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.