Armstrong's mission support T-34C aircraft accompanies research flights for photography and video data collection, and also as safety chase. At Armstrong, the T-34C is primarily used for chasing remotely piloted unmanned air vehicles which fly slower than NASA's F-18's mission support aircraft can fly. It is also used for required pilot proficiency flying.
In its role as a military trainer, the instructor pilot would ride in the back seat, while the student would be in the front seat. As a NASA mission support chase plane, the back seat would be occupied by a photographer or flight test engineer on research missions.
Nicknamed the TurboMentor, the T-34C is an upgraded, turboprop-powered version of the earlier piston-engined T-34A and T-34B models that served as primary training aircraft for Navy and Marine Corps pilots for more than 40 years. Built by Beech Aircraft Co. (now Raytheon Aircraft), the T-34C shares the same basic wing planform and landing gear as the civilian Beechcraft Bonanza series of general aviation aircraft from which it was derived.