Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eight Minutes and Gone

From the time the Medevac call comes in, the first pair of Blackhawks in the rotation have fifteen minutes to be airborne. Actually, the standard for our Medevac unit is eight minutes, the Army standard is 15. When I heard the call at the Medevac hangar I went straight out to where the birds sit in low blast walls waiting to take off. The crew chiefs of both birds were already getting the aircraft ready for flight. The medic ran to the Evac bird, the door gunner ran to the chase bird.

Within three minutes the twin turbojet engines were screaming and the huge rotor blades were starting to turn. I walked along the revetment walls to the from of the aircraft so I could watch the takeoff from directly under their flight path. The main rotor turned faster and faster. I moved to a dead air spot where I was not being buffeted by the wind from the main rotors. The tail roters were spinning crazy fast looking like they might pick the whole aircraft up from the back.

Suddenly the medic bird took off. At first slowly upward, then twisting to the right it banked up into the air, straighten out and shot into the distance.

The chase bird was seconds behind following the same counterclockwise curve into the sky. These pictures are some of two dozen I took in about 20 seconds until the Blackhawks sped out of view.