News: Aviation units conduct research demo
Story by Sgt. Jonathan Thibault
CAÑON CITY, Colo. - Specialists from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Front Range District Office, worked hand-in-hand with Fort Carson flight crews during a research demonstration outside of Cañon City, July 16.
Soldiers with 4th Combat Aviation Brigade and 1st Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, helped the BLM team collect data to assess the use of the lands by the military for High-Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training.
“We have a team of specialists, called the interdisciplinary team, which ranges from marine biologists, wildlife biologists, archeologists, geologists, realty specialists, recreation specialists and range specialists,” said Steve Craddock, Royal Gorge Field Office realty specialist.
The demonstration gives the specialists a firsthand account of the effects that aircraft have on the surrounding environment.
“Our purpose is to expose every resource specialist to the sounds, wind and visual impact as the helicopters land, take off and go in between the landing zones,” said Craddock. “This allows them to come up with a complete analysis of the environmental impact on the areas being used for training.”
The collection of data from the research demonstration is being used to develop a proposal to allow Army aviation units to conduct HAMET training in surrounding areas.
“We have had casual short-term agreements with Fort Carson aviation units, which allowed them to use 28 landing zones for HAMET training,” said Keith Berger, Royal Gorge Field Office manager. “A more in-depth, long-term agreement is needed with the arrival of 4th Combat Aviation Brigade. If the new proposed agreement is approved, there could be up to 43 landing zones that Fort Carson and Army aviation units could use.”
Assessments from the research demonstration will be gathered, and a proposal will be put into consideration by this fall, said Berger.
“After data has been analyzed from all the specialists and a community survey has been done, a decision for the land use will be made,” said Craddock. “The decision depends on many variables and a variety of proposals could be made.”
Additional landing zones will help Fort Carson flight crews train more efficiently and safely, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael S. Madura, Division G3 Air, 4th Infantry Division.
“Having more landing zones will allow aviation units to be more spread out during training,” he said. “This keeps flight crews safe and able to perform a multitude of different training to prepare them for different situations in a mountainous environment.”
HAMET training is vital training that prepares flight crews from Fort Carson and the Army to get specialized skills, he said.
“HAMET training saves lives and better prepares flight crews deploying to areas that are mountainous, such as Afghanistan,” said Madura. “It has (been) proven to reduce incidents over the years. From my 24 years of experience as a pilot who has flown at high altitudes and in mountainous environments, a flight crew has to experience those conditions personally to make them more proficient in maneuvering in those types of terrain.”