News: Confidence with familiarization
Story by Sgt. Dalton Smith
FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. – Combat engineers of the 744th Engineer Company (Mobility Augmentation), out of Ogden, Utah, flew on a CH-47 Chinook for flight familiarization during the annual U.S. Army Reserve exercise Operation River Assault here, July 20.
The 744th Eng. Company (MA) and the 7th Aviation Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, worked together to provide experience for soldiers who have not been on a Chinook before so they could learn how to operate while in a deployed environment.
Operation River Assault combines approximately 1,000 soldiers from a variety of units: engineers, dive specialist, aviation, as well as support personnel. Knowing how every unit works together fluently and safely is key so everything flows together.
“I was told that being a combat engineer, that I’d be in Chinooks a lot,” said Spc. Caleb Murchie, of Ogden, Utah, with the 744th Eng. Company (MA), “and that I would have to overcome my fear of helicopters and gain experience by riding them.”
This operation allows units to train and exercise their current abilities, preparing them to transition forward in their year-to-year training plan. Overcoming fears were some of the transitions made today.
“We trained how to properly load and unload onto a Chinook, both hot and cold,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Flood, of Layton, Utah. Hot and cold loads are based on if the engines are running. Loading hot means the engines are running and the Soldiers would have to maneuver around the exhaust. Loading cold means the engines are shut down.
“Some of the reasons these soldiers might need to properly operate around a Chinook is because they may need to transport injured troops, do an assault on a location or move supplies for their job,” said Flood, operations noncommissioned officer (NCO) for the 744th Eng. Company (MA).
Given that many of the soldiers have never trained with helicopters made for an interesting training day with Chinooks.
“The extreme banking and feeling of no gravity was an experience I would never forget,” said Murchie.
The extreme rotation from left to right, called banking, and rising and falling of elevation, creating the feeling of no gravity, is what Murchie and the other soldiers felt during the flight familiarization, giving them an experience they would never forget.
“As an operations, and sometimes training NCO, I try to get into a rhythm when creating my soldier’s training schedule,” said Flood. “I give them many hard, heavy training days and then a fun, yet still mission oriented, day. Like today.”
“This was my first time on a helicopter and I really wasn’t looking forward to this training day,” said Murchie. “The ride felt like it took forever and everyone was pointing their cell phone cameras at me because I was making sick faces.”
“By the end of the flight I was telling myself, who else gets to do this stuff,” Murchie added. “I gained confidence and much experience from the ride and thought it was way worth it for the great view.”