Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today I rode out to the Forward Area Refueling Point (FARP) on the edge of the gunnery range area of Fort Sill and saw two Blackhawks get refueled and rearmed. It was beautiful to watch.
Like NASCAR teammates dropping from the high banks of Daytona for a green-flag pit stop, two Blackhawks flew hard out of the south then wheeled 180 degrees and seemed to stop as they settled into the Echo Company "pits."
The Echo Company "pit area" can be any field with enough room for rotary-wing aircraft to safely land, re-fuel, re-arm and continue the mission. In this Fort Sill training area, two HEMMT 2500-gallon fueling vehicles wait at opposite edges of an open field. The crews, like their NASCAR counterparts, waited in the sun, suited up with protective clothing and helmets. They check their equipment, watch the sky and wait for the sound of approaching helicopters.
The first birds this afternoon fly straight past the FARP (Forward Area Refueling Point). Then just at 1500 (3pm) the Blackhawks circle in. While both NASCAR and Army Aviation pit crews fuel their high-performance vehicles, the cars get new tires, the Blackhawks get guns and ammo.
In nine minutes the two Blackhawks faced into the south wind and flew up and off to the east, re-armed and re-fueled. The Echo Company FARP got ready for the next pair of Blackhawks already visible on the horizon.