Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend in the Field

One of our UH-60's arriving to our field LZ
Being an aviation unit, our weekend drills are normally conducted from our home station.  This makes sense since we can access any kind of terrain we need for training purposes easily, and why waste time moving to a different location?  One of the exceptions to this rule is when we're doing gunnery training.  This weekend we relocated to the Florence Military Reservation in Arizona where our small arms ranges are located.  We did our annual marksmanship qualifications, some training in Army field tasks, and the ground fire stages of our aerial gunnery qualifications.  This allows us to get the new crew chiefs up to speed on the M-240H machine guns without the noise and movement normal to flight.  In March we'll be doing our actual aerial gunnery training and qualification, which will be another field drill.  Gunnery is probably the most fun of the tasks we get to do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

State Muster

An extreme case of parking in multiple spots.  Setting up our display in the morning.
This weekend Arizona had a state wide National Guard Muster at the Sun Devil Stadium on Arizona State University's campus.  Never missing the opportunity for a dog and pony show, we flew a helicopter in for a static display along with representative samples of other military equipment.  I spent the day with our crew showing off the Blackhawk to anyone interested.  I actually enjoy doing static displays once in a while as people who have never seen a helicopter up close get a chance to take a look and ask questions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fly By

Marine AH-1 Cobras
This morning I heard the characteristic Huey thumping sound outside, and of course had to investigate.  It was a couple of Marine AH-1 Cobras, probably from MCAS Yuma.  When Bell made the Cobra, they used a lot of the UH-1 design to work from.  It could be said they took a Huey and shaved the fuselage down to 36" wide and started putting armament on it.  That would be a simplification, but isn't too far off the mark.  The Army retired the Cobra and Huey many years ago for the Apache and Blackhawk, but the Marines have stuck with it, with Bell still updated the designs.  I've always had a soft spot for the Cobra.

(Note:  It just struck me how much technology has changed since the Cobra was introduced.  I heard these birds, grabbed my camera and photographed them, downloaded, selected and post processed the image and posted it on the blog.  As I write this, they're probably still airborne.)

Monday, September 29, 2014


A rotor wing reunion
The state finally deciding that we had enough money, we had our final drill of the fiscal year this weekend.  This one was unusual for me as I ended up in Tucson nearly the entire weekend.  We were supposed to ferry the Land Component Commander ( a General) around to the range facility in Florance and then to Tuscon, with a return planned in early afternoon.  Unfortunately the weather in Phoenix decided to have another record breaking day, with weather so bad they not only closed Sky Harbor airport, they evacuated the control tower.  Usually the big storms pass through relatively quickly, but this one had staying power which resulted in our VIP passengers electing to take ground transportation rather than wait it out.  (The general pointed to a United 737 waiting on the ramp next to our bird and said words to the effect that they would probably get through.  We pointed out that particular aircraft was diverted from Phoenix.  The passengers sat out there for about three hours before things finally opened up.) Because of duty day limits command decided we should overnight at Tuscon and return the next day.

While there a company of AH-64 Apaches and a couple of CH-47 Chinooks stopped for fuel and lunch.  We had quite the line up there at the airport for a while.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Caught One!

F-35 turning crosswind for Luke AFB
I finally managed to catch one of the new F-35's out of Luke AFB today.  According to the PAO they're now up to 7 aircraft and have just recently passed 100 sorties.  They are a bit louder - they really do remind me of the old J-57 engines, but I don't find them to be any better or worse than the F-16.  Of course I grew up around tactical aviation so some of the neighbors may disagree.  Lately they've been taking off and landing to the south which is a bit unusual for Luke.  I usually get the best look at them as they return from Gila Bend for runway 03L/R. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Korean Memory

Even the tankers were loaded for bear...
OldAFSarge just posted a story that brought back some memories...  This was back in 1976 when we were both E-4's in our respective services, though we hadn't met.  In one of the periodic flare ups that happen with depressing regularity in Korea, a ruckus occurred on the DMZ that ended up in a lethal fight with axes of all things.  This snapshot was taken during our response from the USS Midway to the incident.  During our month of "practice strikes" on Nightmare range; conveniently located near the DMZ we operated pretty much round the clock dropping ordinance.  I remember taking this shot since the aircraft, an A-6A of VA-115 was assigned as a tanker, and you may notice he's carrying 500lb bombs and sidewinder missiles in addition to the refueling equipment.  He brought the missiles and fuel tanks back, but left the bombs on the target.  You should have seen what the aircraft actually assigned to bomb looked like!  As a historical note at the time CAG-5 aboard the Midway had two squadrons of F-4s (VF-151 and VF-161), two of A-7s (VA-56 and VA-93), and an A-6 squadron (VA-115) handling offense.  In a supporting role were VQ-1s EA-3, VMFP-3's RF-4s, VMAQ-2's EA-6s, VAW-115's E-2s, and HC-1's SH-3s.  Not a bad turn out for one ship.