This morning we flew on a clear, sunny and cold morning to drop off patients for MEDEVAC training. We flew from MUIR field to Selingsgrove for the drop off. Part of the flight plan was for me to take aerial shots of the refueling site after we dropped the patients off so I was sitting in the door gunner's seat on the left side of the Blackhawk.
The gunner's seat is both good and bad. Great view no doubt about that, but whoever designed the Blackhawk must believe that gunners are no more than 5 feet 8 inches tall or have short legs. Sitting sideways in that seat, my knees are jammed in and my knees start getting stiff about 15 minutes after takeoff. I twist sideways. When we land, I stick my legs out the window.
Anyway, it was cold enough that I shut the window on the way up to Selingsgrove. I closed the window on the way to the refueling point at Schuykill County Airport, opening it 10 minutes before we arrived.
I was on a headset for the whole flight. When I am on the headset, I can hear the crew talking to each other and the radio transmissions in and out. The pilots on this flight were a warrant officer with 20 years experience and a lieutenant who recently graduated flight school. They talked through the flight operations much more than crews usually do. For a non-pilot, it was interesting to hear all the decisions they make and how the pass control of the aircraft back and forth. We flew over several ridges and down into valleys. The lieutenant did some fast maneuvers rotating the Blackhawk left and right almost 90 degrees. Since I was facing sideways, when he did this I was either looking straight up into the sky or straight down into the trees about 50 feet below.
When we got to the refueling point I saw a multi-ship mission flying in from Virginia. Two Chinooks and a Blackhawk flew in just ahead of us. I was SOOOOOO happy. Pictures of refuel sites are very dull--two fuel trucks and some hoses in an open field. This time when we orbited for the picture, there were two Chinooks getting hot fuel (with the rotors turning). A much better picture.
Below is a video of the Blackhawk I was riding in and another Blackhawk getting fuel.