Posted: 5/23/2002 9:13:44 AM EDT
Aviator, I don't want to hijack [url=http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?id=118732]rick50's thread[/url], but I knew you'd appreciate this story about risk analysis.
I spent the last couple of years of my time in the Ohio Army National Guard as a 93B Aeroscout Observer. We AO's flew left seat in OH-58's, running the radios, navigating, and practicing piloting skills. Being National Guard, we flew extra training periods throughout the week called AFTP's. For me this meant quite a bit of effort, coordinating the time off with my employer, gathering all of my gear, and driving a considerable distance to the airfield. Once there we had to complete a flight plan and additional paperwork and pre-flight the aircraft before making the actual flight. One time I had gone through all this, performed fireguard during the run-up, and climbed in the cockpit. Once there, we lifted off and the pilot said to me, "hmmm, the cyclic feels a little odd, a little stiff. It's probably nothing. Do you still want to fly today?" I looked at him and, without hesitation, said, "No sir. If something feels off to you, set her down, we'll write it up, and I'll head home". We did so and I never regretted it. I never heard what was causing the pilot's discomfort. Probably it WAS nothing, but the risk was simply too great and I was happy to walk away.
This may not seem extraordinary to those outside of military aviation, but if you've spent any time around pilots you know that there is an air of invincibility which often clouds judgement (see:[url]http://www.avpics.de/mov/mil/64-tree.rm[/url]). Fortunately for me, the risks were always forefront in my mind and I came away from Army aviation with myself intact. :)
Hey guy, I hold the 93B MOS as well. In my opinion it was THE best job in the Army ever. You should check out [url]http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Theater/4710/AO.htm[/url] sometime. I'm signed up there.
And yes, risk assesment is critical in keeping yourself healty. There have been days where a string of things such as crewmembers arriving late, can't find the keys or log book, feeling rushed, quick pre-flights, and who knows what else all run together until I just got the feeling maybe I should not go flying today. You know the old saying, "Its much better to be down here wishing you were up there, than being up there wishing you were down here."
Aero-Scout Troop D, 1/113th Air Cav
In many OH-58s, the left seat belongs to...
Story By: SSgt. William H McMichael
THE worn black control stick beckoned as Jeffrey Jump reached forward to wrap a gloved hand around the cyclic's large plastic handle. About 15 feet separated the bottom of the OH-58 helicopter from the floor of the Saudi Arabian desert, visible through the plexiglass window under his boots.
"Now take it nice and easy," said the instructor pilot, CWO 3 Mark Corrigan. Easy for him to say. Surrounded by gauges, hands and feet fully engaged, hovering so close to the ground is about as naked a sensation as a fully clothed person can have.
A bit unevenly at first, Jump steadied the helicopter and began to descend from his hover position. The landing wasn't the feather-light touchdown of a seasoned pro, but it was safe. He then took off into a stiff breeze, the tail slightly swaying back and forth. Over the next 25 minutes he proved himself to be pretty good for a guy with minimal training - and who is not a pilot.
PFC Jump is one of the Army's enlisted aeroscout observers, a breed unto themselves. Paired with a regular OH-58 pilot, they're part of a two-man crew whose mission is to gather intelligence and call for fire in support of ground operations.
Corrigan and Jump are members of D Troop, 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry. In wartime, they and other cavalry aeroscouts will perform a dangerous dance near the front lines, trying to spot enemy formations and movements. Like everyone else in Saudi Arabia, they've had plenty of opportunity to polish their skills.
When Corrigan finished flight school, he had some 175 hours of flight time in his log book. Jump left aeroscout observer school with a much leaner total: 9.1 hours. Observers' flight training is limited to what is termed emergency aircraft handling. "The intent," Corrigan said, "is if I get shot, I've still got somebody who can get us back home, or continue the mission, and land."
Some pilots think AOs shouldn't be sitting in the co-pilots seat. Nor are the AOs generally welcomed with open arms down in the maintenance shack, where the crew chiefs and wrench turners hang out, although there are exceptions.
"That's a little uneasiness in some units between us and the OH-58 crew chiefs, because they don't get to fly and we do," said Jump. "But in this unit, we're real close."
Social lone wolves or not, their skills remain unique. Calling for artillery fire at 100 knots isn't a job for everyone. And it's only the beginning of a long list of responsibilities for AOs, most of whom are enlisted soldiers. Observers must master aerial navigation and communication, map reading, friendly and threat equipment and personnel identification, directing close air support strikes, and filing tactical reports.
"We originally needed AOs because there was a lack of warrant officer strenght in the Army to fill the left seats in the '58s," said SGM Lex Morrill of the Aviation Proponency Office at Fort Rucker, Ala. Congress limits the number of officers in the services at any one time, and there remains a shortage of officers to co-pilot OH-58s.
However, the total number of OH-58s will gradually decrease. The more sophisticated (and costly) OH-58D will push the older Alpha and Charlie models out of the inventory during the nest decade. Presently, enlisted OH-58A and C aeroscout observers can become OH-58D qualified after additional training.
But the Army has decided that the Delta will eventually be a two-pilot aircraft. As Deltas start to dominate the inventory, said Morrill, the number of enlisted observers will decrease, and their places will be taken by observer qualified pilots. Until that happens, though, enlisted soldiers like Jump will be sitting in the left seat of the OH-58s. They'll join a lesser number of officers already serving as observers.
The enlisted aeroscout observer course was first offered in 1985. Initially, it was open to sergeants and above. Now new recruits can enlist for the specialty. Most of the first observers had been cavalry scouts or OH-58 crew chiefs. Growing pains were inevitable.
Some of the friction was related to initial acceptance of the enlisted aeroscout concepts, and some uneasiness remains due to what field commanders see as insufficient flight training on what is regarded as a difficult aircraft to fly. With the limited number of flying hours observers are allotted, the continuing training burden is placed on unit commanders, who must provide 35 hours of semi-annual "stick time" for the lefts eaters.
Upon assignment to a unit, observers and new pilots alike must be certified by unit instructor pilots on both the equipment and the unit's mission. Such training moves both groups up to what is referred as Readiness Level One, a fully mission capable status. Units discovered, Morril said, that they didn't have enough instructor pilots to train both regular pilots and AOs.
Those snags are in the process of being sanded down. Aircrew Training Manual requirements, Morril said, will be changed "to become more field commander friendly.
"We're going to extend to hands-on flying time during the training here at Fort Rucker," he said. "We'll give them more hours, and it'll be more in-depth." The proposed increase to 15 hours, which could also include night-vision-goggle flights, will help alleviate concerns about insufficient flight time and also lessen the burden on unit instructor pilots, he said. Money for training will be the key.
There was no shortage of time for training during the first few months of Operation Desert Shield. But the shortage of instructor pilots limited the training opportunities. And pilots, of course, had first priority on desert familiarization.
"Pilots and AOs don't know each others' limitations," said 2nd Squadron, 4th Cav. instructor pilot CWO 4 Larry Solana. "Out here, navigation's hell on everyone. Take the visual horizon reference away, and you don't know if your right side or upside down."
The observers, he said, "are doing just as good and just as bad as everyone else. I will say this: they're eager, and motivated. The perform excellently for the amount of training that they've had."
"They're very professional in the cockpit," said CWO 2 Curtis McCauley, Company B, 2nd Bn., 229th Aviation Regt. "I've flown with AOs since January 1988. For the most part, they're an excellent bunch of guys."
Observer missions in Saudi Arabia were temporarily halted in October. Several accidents during Desert Shield's first months convinced officials that flight operations had become what Solana termed "a two-pilot situation." But one week before Christmas, the order was lifted, and the use of observers was once again a local command decision.
The relative lack of experience still makes every flight something of an adventure for the enlisted observers. In the flatlands of Saudi Arabia, crews sometimes fly a method PFC Shannon Reiners of C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 4th Cav., jokingly called IFR - "I follow roads."
"A lot of times, we just pick out a heading, and go point to point," said C Troop's Spec. Brian Golden. "But you have to correct for wind."
The confident air of the pilots tends to rub off on those around them, and the observers are no different. But Morril said that he's generally impressed with the soldiers who earn the job title.
"These guys are sharp," he said. "Every one I've talked to is very dedicated. They are supper troops. They went through a lot to get where they are."
"I love it," said Jump. "It's a great job, especially out here. It's the closest thing to being a pilot."
Aviator, agreed, it was the best enlisted job in the Army. I recently joined the Idaho National Guard after an 11-year break in service[b][Correction: a nearly 7-year break in service][/b]. They tried to get me to sign up as a 67R Apache crew chief, but after having been aircrew, I just couldn't get excited about turning wrench. So I enlisted as a 19K M1A1 Armor Crewman and will be finishing up my MOSQ training the first 2 weeks of June. So far, it's great fun.
I first first signed the guestbook at the AO page back in July 2000.
Looks like that Apache got a bit wobbly after the tree srike. Wonder how much of how many blades he clipped off?
On a side note, How much stick time did you guys get? We flew almost 1/2 the time we were in the air. Our unit had some AOs who were excellent sticks.
Looks like that Apache got a bit wobbly after the tree srike. Wonder how much of how many blades he clipped off?
I also wonder where those pilots are today. Are they still flying? Are they "piloting desks"? Or are they out of the military as a result of this mistake?
How much stick time did you guys get? We flew almost 1/2 the time we were in the air. Our unit had some AOs who were excellent sticks.
It all depended on the individual pilot. Most would let us fly level, hover, and shoot approaches about half the time, but some were critical of the program and would rarely yield the stick. As you might expect, by the end I was flying almost exclusively with my favorite pilot. In fact, he and I are still close friends to this day, despite the fact that I left the Guard in 1995 and we live nearly 2000 miles apart.
Oops, duplicate post.