NASA T-38 chase airplane in flight. Footage of a NASA Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft in flight. This aircraft is used by NASA to train its astronauts, and also (as shown here) as a chase plane. A chase plane is used to follow another aircraft during test flights or landings, including the Space Shuttle. The T-38 is a twin-engined supersonic jet. The T-38 has been operational since 1961.