Training Tactics: Part III

By: Patrick Claybon Email
By: Patrick Claybon Email

Tuesday, in our series Training Tactics, we saw just how many people could be involved in a military operation, along with all their equipment. But before they can get to work, things need to be moved. The army has just the aircraft to do it.

The CH-47 Chinook has a maximum takeoff load around 50,000 pounds, giving the crews that fly them what they need to get things moving.

"This is the workhorse. Yes, it carries all the loads it carries all the large quantities of troops if we need them to be moved in it carries the equipment we need to a remote location or even up to a high altitude."

Our training flights pilot was Warrant Officer Melissa Hagert, who says she's flown other aircraft, but now looks forward to a long career with the Chinook, and like for many pilots it was love at first flight.

"it's the helicopter that does everything,” said Hagert. ”So we get to see a little bit of everything when we go out there we're not restricted to one thing."

Our flight was a Slingload training mission. Move an object from A to B using the helicopters lift capabilities, and that's when we get to see the crew go to work. In less than three minutes, the load is attached to the chains and we're back in the air, and over the radio the engineer helps to guide the pilots into position where he can hook the load to the aircraft. At this point, communication is key.

"The calls just come natural,” said Flight Engineer Kevin Davis. "You get used to whatever you see just comes out of your mouth naturally, it's just every day training over and over and over."

Once hooked, the aircraft's twin engines lift the 19,000 pound concrete block on its journey before dropping it back off. And for our pilot managing that power is one of the best parts of the job.

"Yeah, it takes a lot more power to get it off the ground but this aircraft," said Hagert. "Does it pretty much like there's nothing there so it's kind of interesting to see how it responds to the extra weight under the aircraft but it still handles pretty well."

"There are places where there are no roads or other access, other than a helicopter and we're the only ones that can tote the heavy stuff or the lighter stuff in mass quantities that they need."

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