MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Feb. 3, 2011) --
UH-1N Huey blades have hummed in many Hollywood war movie classics – ripping under the sound of rousing rock music, under heavy machine gun fire, while landing and dropping off troops in remote locations – a task more difficult than the movies make it seem.
To hone that confined area landing skill, Marines with Cherry Point’s Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 practiced landing in a variety of landing zones around Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue Feb. 3.
“Bogue is great,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rideout, commanding officer of HMLA-467. “It’s an airfield that is very capable and it’s located within a triangular area between New River and Cherry Point.”
HMLA-467 had 10 Marines at Bogue operating a forward arming and refueling point.
“We came through Bogue to bring in traffic for our Marines to exercise their training,” said Rideout. “Also, it was there last day of their field operation, so we thought why not bring them some hot pizza.”
Rideout compared the delivery to trips that are usually made in Iraq and Afghanistan to forward operating bases to deliver things such as mail, displaying the aircraft’s versatility.
“It is a utility platform,” Rideout said.
The Huey bears multiple weapon capabilities and has been carrying Marines and cargo since its Vietnam era inception in 1969.
“I like to refer to it as the 1970s classic of the Marine Corps,” said Lance Cpl. Caleb M. Morris, crew chief with HMLA-467. “The Huey has been around forever and every time you see the Marine Corps in the news, you always see a Huey somewhere.”
There are four crewmembers on the Huey – pilot, co-pilot and two crew chiefs.
“Crew coordination is paramount for this aircraft,” Morris explained. “The pilots, if they had to, could keep their eyes on the gages and we give them 360 degrees of view.”
A good form of practicing crew coordination is when a flight must perform a confined area landing when needed to medically evacuate personnel or execute troop insertions.
The pilots run through all their checks while one of the crew chiefs scans the air for any obstacles and the other crew chief keeps his eyes on the landing zone to give the pilots a detailed layout of the ground.
“In all of about one minute, there are 100 different pieces moving,” Morris explained. “If we had troops onboard, they’re jumping out as soon as the aircraft touches the dirt and we’re taking off.”
Morris added, “It gives us an omniscient advantage to be able to say, ‘Hey there’s a landing zone, let’s go land there.’”
It’s an important skill to retain said Rideout.
He later added, “Overseas, it’s not often that you land on runways. A lot of the times the aircraft has to be landed on spots at FOBs or on boats, so we practice it because it’s our bread and butter.”
For video of the Feb. 3 flight, click on the Huey flight link to the right.