MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Pilots from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 improved their flying abilities by sharpening their skills with visual and instrument flight rules with the UH-1Y Venom at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014.
During VFR, pilots use visual references to guide their aircraft in flight. During IFR, pilots use instruments to navigate and maintain safe attitude, altitude and air speed, which is especially useful during operations at night and during low visibility conditions.
The flight included multiple practice approaches and landings using the Huey to fine tune the pilots’ maneuverability and trust in their equipment.
“The training allows HMLA-467 to remain an all-weather squadron,” said Maj. Dominick J. Byrnes, a naval aviator temporally assigned to HMLA-467. “Having pilots certified in IFR allows the squadron to execute missions and prevent it from shutting down when bad weather rolls in.”
The instruments provide an “imaginary highway” that keeps pilots clear of towers, aircraft and other obstacles while they fly, said Byrnes. “The more practice you have with the instruments, the more proficient you become.”
For the flight, the pilots also had two Marines to support their actions, Cpl. Jeffery Kruger, an aerial observer on the flight, and Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Messing, a crew chief with the squadron.
“Our job during flights is to be an extra set of eyes on the aircraft,” said Kruger. “We call out altitude and distances around the Huey so the pilots have 360-degree awareness.”
Byrnes and Messing also conduct preflight checks to ensure their aircraft are ready for flight.
“Everything depends on good crew communication and awareness. Staying fully alert at all times,” said Kruger. “IFR flying is a perishable skill, you need to constantly train or you can get rusty.”