Monday, June 13, 2011

Flying with the New Guys

On Saturday I took a routine flight 30 miles northeast of Fort Indiantown Gap to a remote fuel site set up at the Joe Zerbey Airport near Pottsville PA.  They airport had an open house to let local residents see the army fuel trucks and the Blackhawk helicopter we rode up in.  The flight up was better than I expected.  The pilots took an indirect route through valleys at 100 feet of altitude rather than the normal 500+ feet of level flight.  The doors were open and I was sitting in the seat next to the open door so I had a great view. There were five young soldiers on the aircraft who were getting their first flight on a helicopter.  They had a ball.

None of us knew the flight back would be even better.

After an hour at the airport, we took off fast.  First we flew level gaining speed then went up hard.  When we got to 1000 feet we circled.  I had asked to take aerial photos of the fueling set up.  The pilots gave me a level circle to take the pictures, then they turned the Blackhawk almost completely on its side on the next pass over the field, then flipped it to the other side so the soldiers on both sides could have the experience of looking straight down from the open doors.

We were all laughing like we were on a roller coaster--which we were in a way.

On the 30 mile trip back we climbed, dove down hard and pulled back up turning almost sideways 50 feet above the trees.  At one point we landed briefly then climbed almost straight up to 2000 feet.

Below are the other soldiers on the flight and the two who sat opposite me:

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