News: Air Cav conducts Combined High Altitude Training Strategy at Fort Bliss
Story by Sgt. Christopher Calvert
FORT BLISS, Texas – “Warriors” with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, are conducting Combined High Altitude Training Strategy at Fort Bliss, Texas, June 3 to 28.
During CHATS, aviators have flown day and night with instructor pilots to focus on becoming more confident in maneuvering through high altitude environments while improving landing, takeoff and power management techniques, said Lt. Col. Cain Baker, from Arkadelphia, Ark., commander of 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB.
“We just concluded Task Force Attack’s iteration which included elements from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalions and utilized several airframes including the Apache, Chinook, Blackhawk and medevac,” Baker said. “Pilots, alongside their instructors, have flown 20 to 25 hours during this first iteration resulting in close to 400 hours flown. New pilots are learning a ton and their confidence and level of understanding are growing tremendously.”
Baker said the entire task force element as a whole benefited from a very thorough and comprehensive block of instruction during CHATS.
“Collectively we have performed air assaults with all airframes, contingency operations, aircraft and personnel recovery, and multiple close combat attacks,” Baker explained. “There are lots of opportunities to train here, as the instruction is thorough and focused. This is the best training I’ve had in years.”
Pilots were not the only ones who received ample training and benefited during CHATS, Baker said.
“Soldiers in the tactical operations center were able to perform battle tracking like they would in theater,” Baker explained. “Medics underwent opportunity training in the operating room where they expanded upon their techniques, crew chiefs worked 24 hours maintaining aircraft and there were ongoing academic classes.”
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert E. Macy, from West Plains, Mo., a UH-60 Black Hawk Pilot with Company A, 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st ACB, attended the training as the senior pilot for Task Force Attack and said CHATS helped sharpen his aviation skills.
“We performed several aspects of training here that we don’t get a lot of while in garrison,” Macy said. “The terrain here has allowed us to perform high altitude training and execute landing zone sequences to find what provides the best access to land while factoring in wind, power requirements, elevation and temperature.”
With more than 12 years of flying under his belt, Macy said that CHATS still helped him and his fellow soldiers to sharpen their pre-existing skills.
“We flew with goggles in zero percent illumination where it’s very hard to see the ground,” said Macy. “We also performed dust landings while working collective mixed-aircraft missions. We already know how our aircraft performs in garrison, but being able to adjust to aircrafts’ performance based on temperature and elevation changes is crucial. The 3,000 to 7,000 feet of elevation change here really helped us achieve a high level of confidence to do so.”
West Point Cadet Angela Bapp, a Cocoa Beach, Fla., native who has shadowed Soldiers with 3-227th at CHATS during her Cadet Troop Leader Training, said the experience has helped her to better understand what aviation has to offer.
“This training has answered everything I ever wanted to know about aviation,” Bapp said. “Alpha company and 3rd Battalion in general have been awesome to me and I’m thankful for this opportunity. They’ve really went out of their way and worked hard to allow me to learn so much during my time here.”