Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Up on the #2 Engine inspection platform
Maintenance Test Pilots preflighting one of the helicopters for a test flight.  While not all maintenance requires a test flight, any work done on components that effect flight safety - controls, engines or airframe for example, do require the services of the MTPs.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recon Flight

Morning Flight
One of our Blackhawks heading south to recon some potential training sites.  There's a lot of behind the scenes preparation involved in training, especially when we're carrying soldiers from other units.  Our infantry units need to practice insertions and pick ups, so we check out the LZ's before hand to make sure they get the most realistic training with the minimum amount of risk. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tooling on by...

Our Border Collie Fly goes nuts when she sees one of these
OK, so not everything in our airspace is a fast mover.  On the bright side, when you sight one of these guys you have time to go get your camera, select the best lens and have a cup of coffee while you wait for it to get closer.

Olympus OM-D 75-300mm at 228mm and f6.3, 1/250 and ISO 1600.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A hat tip to the Air Force

KC-10 on approach to Luke AFB
Living as I do near Luke AFB, I get to see lots of F-16s in the pattern, as well as the occasional C-5, C-17 or KC-135.  Haven't seen many KC-10's, probably because the Air National Guard operates KC-135's out of Phoenix.  Today, however, I did manage to catch one on it's way in.  Since the fighter mafia won the PR wars in the Air Force, we see a lot of imagery of F-15's, F-16's and F-22's, but not much of the cargo and tanker force.  That's a pity, because those guys do a lot of heavy lifting.  Hat's off to you guys from an Army aviation type.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ground Fire

Two of our crew chief trainees get familiar with the M-240H in its aircraft configuration.  Zeus, the company mascot supervises.
 We've started the training of a new group of crew chief hopefuls this year.  For the January drill we went to the Florence Military Reservation to do the primary introduction and ground fire portion of the machinegun training.  It's a lot easier to get familiar with these weapons on the ground before taking them out in a noisy, vibrating helicopter. 

Primary Marksmanship Instruction and safety brief
 Everyone has at least been exposed to the M-240 in basic training, but that tends to be a short session and is using the M-240B ground version.  Instruction is provided on the specifics of our weapons, how to strip them down and clean them, and how to convert them from aircraft to ground use.  The finer points of aerial gunnery will wait until our air training later this year.  This drill they engaged targets from 100 to 800 meters away.  Each person had 400 rounds for familiarization, and another 400 for the qualification exercise.

The Battalion Commander gets a turn on the line as well.
 Once we had all of our guys taken care of, we still had a little ammo left, so our assigned medic (the Army always has one assigned for a live fire exercise) got a chance to shoot, and the Battalion Commander also took a turn on the line.

A range day is one of the training sessions that everyone enjoys, even though there's a lot of work involved setting it up.  Our full time staff did a pretty good job on the prep work, so even with the minor issues that always pop up on this kind of thing everything went on schedule and good training was had.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Settling in back home

Evening in Arizona - getting ready to fly.
So I'm back from my schooling back east, I've had my check ride and now I'm a Standards Instructor for non rated crew members.  This means I can train crew chiefs and gunners, and perform evaluations on them as well as other instructors.  After talking with the other instructors I decided that Wednesday will be my night to fly.  While National Guard is known for the whole one weekend a month thing, in aviation we do quite a bit more to maintain our currency, to the point of routinely doubling the normal schedule.  So in addition to our drill weekends and annual training periods, we as a unit generally fly three nights a week.  The instructors split these nights up to make sure training is available as needed.