From the Cockpit Part 32: T-28C Trojan

Ryan Flies


Editor’s Note: This is part 32 of an ongoing series documenting the flights of active-duty US Navy Pilot Ryan Rankin on his journey to fly 52 planes in 52 weeks through the year 2017.

Back stateside, Rankin travels to LaGrange, GA, where he meets up with former Navy flight surgeon Dan Serrato, for a flight in his North American T-28C Trojan. A popular trainer in the US Navy and Air Force post-WWII, the T-28 was introduced to replace the T-6 Texan and enjoyed a heyday from the 1960s to 1984, when it was itself replaced by the T-34. And Serrato’s particular T-28, the one Rankin flew, was the very first to land on an aircraft carrier.

Having flown the T-6 before, the T-28 stands out as being from a different era almost immediately. “It has more of a warbird feel to it,” says Rankin, noting the size of the plane and particularly the powerful Wright Cyclone radial engine dominating the nose. Beyond that, the quick jump from T-6 to T-28 introduced a whole host of instrumentation and avionic equipment to the cockpit as well. “It’s definitely a more complex aircraft,” Rankin says, “especially for a trainer.”

But the standout difference has to be the Cyclone mounted on the front, delivering a whopping 1425 horsepower compared to the T-6’s 600 and spewing smoke as it roars to life like a monster. “You can just about feel the individual cylinders firing and turning over,” says Rankin. “It’s a more visceral experience.” Modern aircraft may be smoother, but there’s something lost in the process.

There are downsides, however, to the massive engine. Hearsay and rumor call the Wright Cyclone an “oil hog,” claiming the beast works through three gallons of oil an hour. Rankin can’t say if that’s true or not, but he does know that near every single one has (or had) a black stripe painted down the side, and not because it looks cool, but to disguise the incessant oil drips and leaks. “You find puddles under all of them,” he says.

But in the air, the T-28 soars, and Rankin reports it may be his favorite amongst the family. The T-6 has strong vintage appeal and the T-34 holds sentimental value as the plane he first trained on, but the T-28 has that special something. “As far as fun and flyability goes,” Rankin says, “the T-28 is definitely the more enjoyable aircraft.”

For more about the flight in Rankin's own words and a video of the flight, follow the link below.

Pictured: Ryan Rankin and Dan Serrato fly the T-28C Trojan. Photo courtesy of Ryan Rankin.

Ryan Flies

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