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    Long Way in a Short Time: 1st Inf. Div. All Female Flight Visits Amelia Earhart Museum

    Long Way in a Short Time: 1st Inf. Div. All Female Flight Visits Amelia Earhart Museum

    Photo By Sgt. Charles Leitner | U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Ashley Jacobs, a Black Hawk crew chief assigned to the 3rd...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Charles Leitner 

    19th Public Affairs Detachment

    “How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
    For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
    Unless we dare,”

    -Amelia Earhart, Courage

    ATCHISON, Kansas – On their way back to Fort Riley, Kansas, flight crew 1-1 felt a shift in the wind, a change that caused their ground speed to increase and threatened mission failure.

    Nestled in the co-pilot’s chair of an HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Amy Hunnewell, an aviator assigned to 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, monitored flight controls and re-calculated flight times as traffic echoed through communication channels.

    At that moment, veteran Black Hawk pilot Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christy Gerow, an aviator assigned to 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., looked over to her co-pilot.

    “Trust yourself,” she said. “You’re doing great.”

    Flying at 100 knots over the Flint Hills region provides an unfettered view of the plains surrounding Fort Riley, an expanse of tall grass prairies, cattle ranches, energy mills and watering holes.

    “It’s definitely a rush that you don’t experience in an airplane,” said Sgt. First Class Ashley Jacobs, a Black Hawk crew chief assigned to the 3rd AHB, 1st Avn. Regt., 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div. “I’ve stayed hooked on it ever since my first flight in a heli.”

    Aviators assigned to the 1st Inf. Div. flew to Atchison, Kansas, the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, to tour the newly renovated Amelia Earhart Hanger Museum, to highlight the accomplishments of women serving in the U.S. Army and commemorate the 50th anniversary of women serving as rotary wing aviators in the military and the 16th Annual National Women’s Week.

    “Amelia Earhart is a cornerstone in history,” said Hunnewell. “A forebear for aviation in general but also for every female aviator. You can’t talk about women in aviation without talking about Amelia Earhart.”

    An early infatuation with the thrill of heights and carnival rides pushed Earhart toward her lifelong love of aviation. In just 39 years, only 17 of which were spent growing familiar to the feel of the pilot’s chair, Earhart accomplished more than a handful of feats in aviation.

    In the first two lines of her book, 20 Hrs. 40 Min, recounting her experience completing her historic flight across the Atlantic, Earhart writes; “There are two kinds of stones, as everyone knows, one of which rolls. Because I selected a father who was a railroad man it has been my fortune to roll.”

    Earhart’s impact on history was pivotal in propelling future generations into aviation. Because of her achievements, both Hunnewell and Jacobs grew up knowing that they could pursue a life in the skies.

    In 1928 Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, after which her many achievements in flight only continued to grow. In 1931 she became the first woman to fly and cross the United States in an autogyro, a precursor to modern day helicopters. The following year, she was the first woman to perform a solo flight across the Atlantic, the first person to fly across the Atlantic twice and the first woman to perform a nonstop flight across the United States. In that same year, Earhart became the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, an award given to individuals who show, “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”

    “The adventures she was able to accomplish during the time period that she was born in is incredible,” said Hunnewell. “You see the echoes of women’s rights and the development of women’s equality starting from that era.”

    To honor Earhart’s drive and thirst for adventure, Karen Seaberg, the president of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation, gathered funds along with her late husband, Laidacker Seaberg, to construct the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum. After Seaberg acquired one of the last remaining Lockheed 10-E aircraft, the same aircraft flown by Earhart during her penultimate flight, renovations on the museum began in 2018. Less the five years and $17 million dollars later, the museum is scheduled to open officially on April 14, 2023.

    “We put it out as much as we could to get kids here,” said Seaberg. “We took the whole daycare and brought them here.”

    Flights conducted by U.S. Army helicopter crews often come with a unique set of mission guidelines. What seem like routine flights are loaded with particulars which allow for flight crews to receive realistic training in seemingly mundane environments.

    Understanding the nuts and bolts of a time on target flight involves breaking down the process required in performing a mixed make and design series operation. Aviators of the 1st Inf. Div. flew in a formation of Blackhawk, Apache and Chinook helicopters under a mission-critical pretense that designated flight crews reach division headquarters, their final destination, within a narrow 30-second window. Arriving too soon or too late would mean mission failure.

    According to Hunnewell, many of the pilots had never flown a mission like this; so rehearsal and laborious planning were essential and the work each crew put in behind the scenes would set them up for an exact time on target.

    “I hope that people see not just how incredible the day was, but also the significance of the ripples over time and over history, from where we’ve come to and where we will continue to go from what we accomplished today,” said Hunnewell.

    As Soldiers of the 1st Inf. Div. finished their tour and prepared for takeoff the clock began to tick. While Seaberg stood flocked by dozens of onlookers, some of whom may become future pilots, the five birds rose in a flurry; seventy thousand tons rising from the grass light as feathers, buzzing and the ghost of Earhart somewhere smiling.

    The formation fell into the tailwind soon after they performed a scheduled landing in nearby Topeka to refuel. In the midst of re-calibrating their trajectory, the 1-1 led the rest of the flight crews as the blades of their helicopters gripped the air, driving them towards their final fly-over destination.

    Demonstrating their knack for maneuvering rotary wing aircraft, the helicopters swooped over division headquarters in a V formation with two seconds to spare, a textbook zero-zero time on target.


    Date Taken: 03.31.2023
    Date Posted: 03.31.2023 16:59
    Story ID: 441668
    Location: ATCHISON, KANSAS, US

    Web Views: 495
    Downloads: 0