T-37 jet trainer

T-37 Jet trainer fuel spigot

In late July 2017, I was in McMinnville, Oregon, and visited the Evergreen Air and Space Museum.

This is a wonderful museum, and I highly recommend it.  They have the Spruce Goose on display and hundreds of other aircraft items.

I asked and was told that, yes, they did have a Beech T-33 jet trainer on display.  It was well off the beaten path, but the directions took me directly to it.

As far as I recall, this is the first T-33 that I have seen.  Before this, it was only photos.  Why am I interested? Here is the story.

As a boy, my family had a machine shop and farm equipment manufacturing plant in Wichita, KS.  At that time, Wichita was more or less the aircraft manufacturing center of the USA.  I thought that Cessna was making the T-33 trainer for the military.  My memory was all wrong on this one.  As described by Wikipedia, the T-33 was made by Lockheed and not in Wichita.

It was the T-37, by Cessna, that this story details.

Cessna had some serious specs for parts required to satisfy military requirements.  They were so rigorous that Cessna had approached several machine shops to make a fuel line spigot.  A family friend who also owned a machine shop sent the Cessna purchasing person to my father to make this part.

My father said that he would try to make it, but it would be expensive.  They were willing to pay since they had been unable to find a job shop able and willing to make it.  However, dad assured me that it was an easy part to make.

He set up tooling to do the rolling necessary.  He taught me to do the machine work on a lathe.

The backstory.  While I was still a boy and hadn’t gotten my growth spurt, I would make parts.  To operate an engine lathe, I had to stand on a box.  I would crank out the order.  I started doing this at around 10 years old. He had contracts for several different buyers, and I would make the parts.

My dad got the order to make these fuel line parts for the T-37.  I could make the parts in a couple of hours, but dad would hold the order for a couple of days so that the buyer would assume that it really was challenging and a slow process.

It is a testament to my father’s ability to make the tooling so simple that a boy could run the parts.  At that age, I think before I was 13, I certainly wasn’t a skilled machinist and never became one.

So, I thought that I was looking at the plane for which I made parts, only to discover that I remembered the wrong jet plane.

I now have a list of 3 air museums in California that have the real T-37 on display.  I hope that in my travels, I am nearby and can see one in real life.   If I am able, I hope to add a photo with me beside a T-37 and post it here.

Had it not been for the Evergreen Air & Space Museum, I wouldn’t have even thought of those parts that I made 65 years ago.

This article prompted a comment from our own Kurt Shrader, who is the one that does the vast majority of the scanning of documents for this site.  I find it interesting to discover that people have experience aside from our BMW motorcycles.

Duane –

This is an interesting connection to the T-37. My Dad flew both the T-33 and T-37 in the USAF…he liked both aircraft, but I guess the T-33 was the faster and “sexier”…he has over 2500 hours in the T-33 and about 1600 in the T-37.  I spent quite a bit of time in my engineering career working with the T-37 for the USAF.  I installed flight data recorders at several USAF bases in Texas and Mississippi.  They retired the T-37 maybe 10 years ago.

There are many T-37s around the country on display, just about any USAF museum is likely to have one as a static display in front of USAF training bases.


Updated 15 Nov. 2019