Apache's Last Run

With Fort Rucker being the nation's leader in Army aviation, Wiregrass skies have been home to the AH-64 "A" Apache since the 80's.

But the chopper is now a victim of progression, Thursday night marked its last training flight in Fort Rucker.

Civilian flight trainer Rick Pawlack and his pupil, Lt. Jeff Duncan, prepped their Apache for its last go around on Fort Rucker. Pawlack says he's going to miss the Apache.

"It did the army well", he said.

It used to be the Army's primary attack helicopter. Its principal mission: the destruction of high-value targets, with laser-guided precision hellfire missiles, 70 mm rockets, and a30 mm automatic cannon with up to 1,200 rounds of ammunition. But now, it’s on its way out.

"It’s just the natural progression of things," Pawlak said. "The Army went from Cobras to Apaches to Longbows. We're just stepping up."

The Army plans to remanufacture A model Apaches into Longbows, or the AH-64D. One of the many upgrades includes a target acquisition system; it allows pilots to set the coordinates of a target, giving them a much higher chance of hitting it.

Pawlak has been training with the original Apache for 14 years, but the idea of working with the Longbow is welcoming.

"I'm gonna miss the A model, but I'm ready to move on to a bigger and better aircraft."

The original Apache was first introduced in 1983. It was used in several theatres, including Panama, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and most recently, the War in Iraq.

Fort Rucker has eight A models. They will all soon be moved to Arizona, where the army will likely begin to remanufacture them into Longbows.

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