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    SD Guard makes final flight of legacy aircraft

    SD Guard makes final flight of legacy aircraft

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Beck | The OH-58 Kiowa made its final flight as a part of the South Dakota Army National...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Beck 

    South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs   

    RAPID CITY, S.D. – The OH-58 Kiowa helicopter has served in the U.S. Army since 1969, and served nearly two decades as a part of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s inventory. The OH-58 made its final flight, May 31, at the Rapid City Regional Airport and marked the end of this aircraft’s service as a part of the SDARNG.

    The aircraft is being replaced by the newer LUH-72 Lakota helicopter, which began its service in the SDARNG in May 2011.

    The Kiowa entered service with the SDARNG in the fall of 1991, serving the role of aerial scout and forward observer platform as part of the 137th Aviation. Two detachments of the 137th were formed in Rapid City at its Army Aviation Support Facility: Detachment 4, 2/137th Aviation and Detachment 2, Company A, 2/137th Aviation. These units were commanded by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Thomas Sikorski and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wesley Barnes.

    “The 58’s were intended to replace our OH-6’s, but everyone loved to fly the 6’s,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 (retired) Frank Effenberger, pilot. “We flew the 6’s until they took them away from us.”

    According to Effenberger, the pilots loved they OH-6, but the passengers preferred the OH-58.

    “Tall passengers had to hunch over in the back seat of the OH-6, but the OH-58 had a lot more head room,” he said.

    The OH-58 served five years before initially leaving the SDARNG’s service in August of 1996.

    The Kiowa returned to service in the South Dakota Guard in May 2002. The state received two OH-58 aircraft with the newly formed Reconnaissance and Aerial Interdiction Detachment (RAID) unit. The primary mission of the RAID unit was to provide support for law enforcement agencies for counter-narcotics operations. These Kiowas were fitted with infrared cameras and powerful spotlights in order to fulfill this role.

    “This is the second time we have retired the ‘58’s in South Dakota,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kenneth East, former RAID commander.

    The Kiowa flew numerous counter-narcotics, search and rescue and public event missions since 2002, which is a testament to the legacy of the aircraft serving in the counter-narcotics role. The May 31 flight was symbolic, circling the Rapid City Regional Airport one last time before retiring the aircraft.



    Date Taken: 05.31.2013
    Date Posted: 06.07.2013 15:05
    Story ID: 108280
    Location: RAPID CITY, SD, US 

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