News: Heavy Lifting: HMHT-302 trains to lift external cargo with Logistics Operations School
Story by Cpl. Martin Egnash
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302 trains Marines to become pilots and crew chiefs for the CH-53E.
When Marines are operating in inaccessible areas, often times they rely on the heavy lifting capabilities of Marines flying CH-53E Super Stallions.
Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302 trains Marines to become pilots and crew chiefs for the CH-53E.
“When Marines come to us, we are their first experience in a Marine Corps aircraft,” said Maj. Matthew Gruba, executive officer of HMHT-302. “Once we start their training, the future pilots and air crew have a lot of responsibilities.”
One of the responsibilities HMHT-302 Marines have is mastering external loads with a CH-53E.
“An external load is where we hook up a large object, be it supplies, equipment or whatever the Marine Corps needs, to cables underneath the CH-53E, and transport it to where Marines need it.”
HMHT-302 Marines practiced external load operations in conjunction with the Logistics Operations School, Aug. 14.
“External loads are very important,” said Gruba, who piloted the helicopter during the training. “Marines operate in many isolated places that may not have room to land, and may not be able to resupply on the ground. They count on us to bring in supplies. It wasn’t uncommon for us to have to resupply Marines in inaccessible locations with external loads in Afghanistan. Also, for any load that can’t fit inside the helicopter, like trailers and vehicles, the only option for transportation is with an external load.”
During the training, HMHT-302 Marines hovered directly above the helicopter support team, while the Marines below fought against the strong winds generated by the CH-53E to attach heavy loads, such as crates of sandbags and iron beams to the helicopter.
“The helicopter support team attaches the load to the helicopter right beneath us,” said Gruba. “This means we’re hovering a 50,000 pound helicopter right over some Marines’ heads. As far as safety goes, we can never be too careful in a situation like this.”
During this process, the pilots are unable to see directly beneath them, so they must rely on their crew chiefs for direction.
“The communication between pilots and crew chiefs is essential,” said Gruba. “They tell us when to go forward, when to back up and when the load is hooked up. The professionalism of the Marines in the back of the aircraft and underneath the helicopter always amazes me. Many of them are coming here immediately after school, and already they have lives depending on them. Like many Marines, they are given a lot of responsibility, very early on.”
After the loads were attached to the helicopter, the HMHT-302 Marines practiced flying the now even heavier Super Stallion.
“It’s tough training,” said Gruba. “It takes a lot of precision from our Marines to do it perfectly. Thankfully, I have a group of Marines dedicated to completing the mission perfectly, every time.”
This work, Heavy Lifting: HMHT-302 trains to lift external cargo with Logistics Operations School, by Cpl Martin Egnash, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.