News: DART training saves aircraft and money
Story by Sgt. William Begley
FORT STEWART, Ga. – Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Downed Aircraft Recovery Team participated in aircraft recovery training for a mission readiness exercise on Taro training area on Fort Stewart March 10.
A UH-1H Huey helicopter was salvaged by the unit for use as the training downed aircraft and moved by low-boy trailer to the training site. The Huey was an aviation work horse for the United States Army during the Vietnam War and its service continued until it was retired in the 1990s.
The Huey aircraft had been sitting for several years in Hunter Army Airfield’s H-9 training area. Exposed to the elements, the aircrews and DART personnel participating in this exercise had some concern regarding its structural integrity and airworthiness as a training aid. This provided an additional training opportunity for 603rd Aviation Support Battalion’s sheet metal team, as they were able to reinforce the fuselage at several points to enable it to withstand the stress of being slung beneath a CH-47F Chinook aircraft.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Wisman, maintenance supervisor and noncommissioned officer in charge, Company D, 1-3 ARB, said he has a lot of new soldiers on his team, and that it is exciting to move onto the aircraft for realistic training.
“It’s a great exercise for my guys to come out and hook up an aircraft and familiarize themselves with rigging an aircraft for recovery,” said Wisman. “It feels amazing to be a part of such an important mission—to be able to possibly save the crews lives, or recover the equipment really gives you a great feeling.”
“It’s a 10 minute flight to the [training area] from Hunter Army Airfield, and a lot of them had never been in the back of a CH-47 Chinook before,” continued Wisman. “The excitement of going out on missions is where it’s at for these guys.”
Army 1st Lt. Aaron Long is the company executive officer for Company D, 1-3 ARB and DART officer in charge for this event. Long said his team is newly assembled and brings mixed experience to the table.
“It’s been a fun experience, I’ve never done this before so I’m learning a lot,” said Long. “I like new things, and I like teaching new things to a group of guys who may have never done this before.”
Staff Sgt. Christopher Chiodo is a technical inspector for the DART training. He is also one of the veterans of the team. Chiodo has three years experience with his current team, and has also deployed as part of another team. Chiodo knows the critical path from training to execution.
“I’ve assisted in the recovery of two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters that went down during a deployment in Afghanistan,” said Chiodo.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Stevens, Company B, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, is a primary DART officer in charge for the 603rd ASB. For this exercise he was acting as an observer controller trainer. Stevens loves the realism of this training.
“It’s great to get out of the office and away from the normal everyday routine,” said Stevens. “I love getting out here with all of the soldiers and watch them do what they do, and put into use what we’ve been training them to do for the last two weeks.”
Stevens went on to say that the training went really well and he was pleased with the performance of the team.
“You fight as you train, and you train as you fight,” continued Stevens. “Once they secured the area, it only took them about 30 minutes to rig the downed aircraft. That’s pretty good. It’s obvious that they absorbed what we trained them to do.”