On 8 July 1982, LCDR Barkdull was serving as an instructor pilot aboard a Beechraft T-44A turboprop of the Naval Air Training Command in Corpus Christi, Texas.
His aircraft and another T-44A collided during a training mission approximately 2 miles south of the Cabaniss Field auxiliary landing site. Both pilot instructors and 4 students were killed, with the planes coming down in a grain field.. They were flying VFR at the time of the accident. Other details as to cause not know as of this writing.
Those lost were:
From Squadron 31:
Lt. Thomas A. Vonnegut (Honolulu, HI) (Instructor Pilot)
Ens. Cary P. Jones (Gainsville, FL) (Student Pilot)
Ens. Joseph F. West, Jr. (Graham, TX) (Student Pilot)
From Squadron 28:
LCDR Curtis R. Barkdull (Warner Robins, GA) (Instructor Pilot)
Ens. Robert B. Barnett, Jr. (Lauderhill, FL) (Student Pilot)
Ens. Jeffrey A Edwards (Raleigh, NC) (Student Pilot)
LCDR Burkdull began serving in the Navy on 20 June 1972.
He left a wife, Pamela, at his death.
LCDR Barkdull was interred in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery, Eureka, California.
Earlier, then Lt. Barkdull served as a pilot aboard the USS Kittyhawk (CVA-63) during WESTPAC Cruise 30 May 1979 - 25 February 1980 with VAW-114.U.S. Navy Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron. Possibly flying the E-2C Hawkeye.
Training Squadron TWO-EIGHT was commissioned on May 1, 1960 under the leadership of Commanding Officer, Commander O. T. Knight. Prior to that, VT-28 operated as Advanced Training Unit 611. The primary mission of VT-28 was advanced multi-engine flight training for Student Naval Aviators (SNAs). Over 6,000 Naval Aviators had been trained by VT-28 before assignment to fixed wing, multi-engine squadrons. This curriculum has evolved over the years in response to the changing need to the Navy and advances in aviation technology.
VT-28 quickly established a standard of excellence which has continued unabated for 56 years. With 44 instructors, 48 TS-2F "Tracker" aircraft, 400 enlisted personnel and an average on board student count of 125, VT-28 set new training, safety, and cost efficiency records in its first ten months of operation. During the 1960's, as the demand for fixed wing maritime pilots increased, so did the scope and responsibility of the Training Squadron TWO-EIGHT mission.
By the mid-sixties, the flight syllabus, augmented by simultaneous ground training, had expanded to include Familiarization, Basic and Radio Instrument Navigation, Cross County, Night Familiarization and Carrier Qualification. The TS-2F "Tracker" proved itself a most reliable and stable training platform during periods of changes in the syllabus and increased requirements. In 1969 alone, nearly 300 Naval Aviators were designated and 40,000 aircraft hours flown by VT-28. The squadron carrier qualified or "CQ 'd" thousands of Student Naval Aviators in the "Tracker" until its retirement in 1979 when it was replaced by the T-44A on March 1st of that year.
The squadron continued to train Advanced Maritime Student Naval Aviators in the T-44A aircraft until 1990, at which time CNATRA directed the squadron to change its mission and become the first Instructor Training Squadron. VT-28 then assumed the responsibility for all instructors training within Training Air Wing FOUR as well as Instructor Standardization, Functional Check Flights, and course curriculum oversight in both the T-34C and the T-44A aircraft.
On April 1, 1993, VT-28 changed its mission once again; this time to provide Primary/Intermediate flight training instruction to Student Naval Aviators while flying the T-34C. In the first months as CNATRA's fifth Primary Squadron, VT-28 continued to set the standard for training excellence, flying over 20,230 mishap free flight hours and graduating over 200 primary students and over 100 intermediate students.
In April 2015, the Rangers heralded a new age in their Primary training history with the arrival of the new T-6B Texan II aircraft and bid a fond farewell to the mighty and venerable T-34C Turbo-Mentor. The T-34C became operational in 1977 and VT-28 was the last Primary squadron to fly and "sundown" the T-34C. The Rangers expertly completed over 525,000 flight hours, 271,000 flights, and produced 4,844 Primary Student Naval Aviators in the T-34C Turbo-Mentor during its long and distinguished service life of more than 38 years. With the T-6B's improved performance, modern avionics and safety systems, the VT-28 Rangers continue their tradition as CNATRA's premier Primary training squadron, continuing to provide the highest quality Student Naval Aviators to meet fleet requirements.