Heavy helicopter squadron conducts aerial refueling operations

7 Nov 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Heins

Members of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 conducted aerial refueling training with a CH-53E Super Stallion off the coast of Atlantic Beach Oct. 31.

HMH-366 provides transport for combat troops, supplies and equipment during expeditionary, joint or combined operations.

“[Aerial refueling] extends our combat range so we don’t have to stop on the ground,” said Capt. Eric B. Phillips, the instructor for the training.

Phillips took a new pilot, Capt. Robert S. Zetelski, with him to teach him how to properly conduct an aerial refuel. During the training the team received more than 10,000 pounds of fuel in less than six hours.

“Since it was my first time, the first time I connected was the best part of the mission,” said Zetelski.

To properly conduct the aerial refuel, the pilot had to follow behind a KC-130J Hercules from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252. Zetelski, through precise maneuvering, connected the helicopter to a hose extending from the back of the Hercules.

“The hardest part is staying in a position to get the gas,” said Zetelski. “You have to be able to maintain that particular position in order to continue to get gas, and if you fall out of place, it starts all over again.”

Philips said it is vital to stay relaxed throughout training. The techniques will become muscle memory, he said.
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point