Monday, August 05, 2013

Drill Weekend

Chalk 2 poses for us - we tried to give everyone in both birds a chance to get a decent picture
This was a drill weekend, the first one in some time with the full unit.  We had lots going on with some of the new guys getting gunnery practice at Gila Bend (35,000 rounds worth, yee-haw!) and the Med det getting ready for their upcoming deployment.  I was assigned to crew on a pax flight up to Prescott supporting some Air National Guard troops.

More after the break

The Air Force does fly Army on occassion
These guys are part of the security detachment for the 161st Air Refueling Wing out of Phoenix.  The 161st  gave us a lot of help with prepping for the airlift of our birds to Panama and back, and these guys even pulled security for us while the birds were getting prepped for load out.  So when the security guys had an opportunity to train with the Prescott Police, we gave them a ride up and back.  Not only does that beat convoying up in military vehicles, there's a certain amount of street cred when you show up to a training site in a couple of Blackhawks.

During the passenger brief we found that only about three of four of them had ridden in a Blackhawk before, so we made sure to give them a good weapons procedures brief.  They weren't carrying ammo this time around, but next time they may be so we made sure their weapons handling was up to speed.  This wasn't a slight to the AF, we don't trust Army guys either when weapons are involved.  These guys maintained excellent gun handling throughout, I'd have no problems flying with them "hot."

"You guys aren't prone to air sickness, are you?"
One of the things we always do with passengers is give them plenty of opportunities to collect a "sick sack" prior to flight.  You always look for the guy or gal who looks like they might want to say something, but hold back due to peer pressure.  On the first pass these guys were all going to tough it out, but my other crew chief pointed out that if they got sick without a sack the procedure was to throw up inside your uniform shirt, which you would then be wearing for the next two days.  They all grabbed a sack, just in case!

This is where we operate - the shadow gives you some idea of where we are relative to the terrain
As it turns out, this was a good decision on one of their parts...  If you're not used to it, flying in a helicopter is a different sensation.  When you combine that with the August temperature in the Sonoran desert and the fact that most people aren't used to low level flight it can cause some discomfort.  With the exception of A-10 pilots, who really ought to be in the Army anyways, most people in our sister service do not spend much time flying below grade.  It's where we operate most of the time and where we train.  It's very hard to shoot at a helicopter moving fast and low, especially is he's using the terrain to mask his position.

Diving right turn after clearing the ridge line
It was about this time that one of our passengers had to make use of his sick sack, much to the amusement of his teammates.  We leveled out for a few to allow him to recover, and he did fine for the rest of the flight, even after we went back into terrain flight.  The drop off in Prescott was uneventful.  Sunday afternoon we flew back up to give them a ride back to the valley, and they all looked like they had a good training weekend.

Tribute to the Yarnell 19 near Prescott

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