Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — Onlookers would have seen an unfamiliar sight over the taxiways of Biggs Army Airfield Jan. 29. A UH-1 Huey helicopter was airborne again – however, it did not lift off under its own power. It was prepared and lifted by sling-load, used as part of a joint downed aircraft recovery team exercise.
Both Company B, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, “Black Knights” and Company B, 127th Aviation Support Battalion, CAB, 1st AD, “Mad Dawgs” conducted the training. The Black Knights provided lift capability, while the Mad Dawgs provided the Huey fuselage recovered from the Fort Bliss training area.
Maj. Bryan Zesiger, commander of Company B, 127th ASB, oversaw the preparation and certification of the Huey fuselage for the training.
“The end result of today’s training is to further the preparation of both maintenance and flight crews for real life aircraft recovery operations,” said Zesiger.
The CH-47F Chinook helicopter lifted the UH-1 Huey four times during the all-day training. Once the Chinook crew and the Huey load were deemed safe, the CH-47F completed one small tour around the airfield while the Huey dangled underneath.
After each iteration, the 127th ASB’s maintenance personnel would efficiently inspect and prepare the Huey for subsequent lifts. The training was successful, allowing both the Black Knights crews, as well as 127th ASB’s Soldiers to become increasingly familiar with sling load recovery operations.
“(The plan was to) utilize this Huey fuselage for further training, adding more and more elements each time, until the scenario is as close to a real world event as possible,” said Zesiger.