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Watch: Landlocked Memphis Base Was Once The Epicenter of Naval Aviation Training

The Film “Beneath Navy Wings” Captures The NATTC Experience Framed By The Plight Of A P2V Neptune Crew.

NAS Memphis hosting aircraft from other Naval Air Stations during a storm evacuation. Official US Navy Photograph

The film “Beneath Navy Wings” was made during the late 1960s and showcases both the Lockheed P2V Neptune maritime patrol aircraft and the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Memphis located in Millington just north of Memphis in Tennessee. While it might seem strange to locate the epicenter of training for nearly every aviation-related rating in the Navy near landlocked Memphis, the centrally-located NATTC was located across the street from a Naval Air Reserve base. The film was uploaded to YouTube by PeriscopeFilm. I don’t recall receiving a “diploma” from my A school though. Memphis memories await!

Official US Navy Photograph

The NATTC installation is now called Naval Support Activity Mid-South. The aviation-related “A” schools have been moved to NAS Pensacola. Back in the day NAS Memphis was home to Patrol Squadron SIX  SEVEN (VP-67) Golden Hawks. Sometimes referred to as the Thunder Chickens, VP-67 was a Navy Reserve patrol squadron whose personnel made 23 full deployments or detached deployments over 24 years of service. They flew the SP-2H Neptune and the Lockheed P-3A Orion and later the P-3B. The Neptune flown in the film is a VP-5 Mad Foxes machine though.

VMA-124 A-4E Skyhawk. Official US Marine Corps Photograph.

NAS Memphis was also home to Marine Corps Attack Squadron VMA-124 Checkerboards, who flew several types including Grumman F9F-8 Cougars, North American Furies, and Douglas A-4 Skyhawks for many years. Navy Reserve attack squadron VA-204 River Rattlers and their Scooters were also based in Memphis until 1978. NAS Memphis is no longer an active installation, having become the Millington Regional Jetport in 1993. The base still hosts military aircraft from time to time- occasionally quite a few of them. Because of the expansive aprons aircraft from Gulf Coast bases often bug out to Millington when storms affect their home turf.

Navy Bell TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopters on the apron in Millington during a bug-out from Whiting near NAS Pensacola. Official US Navy Photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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