“I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” — Aviation Soldiers conduct sling load operations

Story by Spc. Tom Harrington, Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative

NOTE:  Each week kentuckyguard.com publishes stories by Kentucky National Guard unit public affairs historian representatives, also known as UPAHRs.  This is an additional duty taken on by a Soldier or Airmen with the intent of telling their unit’s story.  This is one such story ….

(Please click HERE to view all the photos on this story.)

Slingload Hookup

Pfc. Joshua Back, from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment prepares to hook a sling load to a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter during sling load recurrency training in Frankfort, Ky. Mar. 10. (Photo by Spc. Tom Harrington, Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion 147th Aviation Regiment)

FRANKFORT, Ky (March 10, 2011) — Good training.  It’s what every Kentucky National Guard unit strives for on ‘drill’ weekends.  Yet required briefings, administrative tasks, and mountains of paperwork are necessary distractions that can derail even the best of intentions over that short 48 hours period.

Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment overcame these distractions during their unit’s last drill weekend and accomplished what every military unit is after — good, realistic training.

North of Frankfort, Ky., the sounds of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters could be heard as the unit performed daytime sling load recurrency training.  Sling load training consists of supplies or equipment properly rigged with either one or more slings, cargo bags, or cargo nets and carried beneath a helicopter attached by a lead line and swivel. This is an annual requirement for UH-60 aircrews, and members of the unit had not performed this training together since last summer.

“This sling load training was a good opportunity for the newer crew chiefs and pilots that we have, “ said Sgt. Marcus Avery, a Crew Chief with Bravo Company.  “This training was put together very well.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Radford, a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot with Bravo Company,  just recently returned to the unit. He deployed with the Virginia National Guard to Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn, and this was his first drill weekend back with Bravo Company.

Blackhawk Slingloads2

UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from Bravo Company 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment prepare to hook up sling loads during their units drill in Frankfort, Ky. Mar. 10. (Photo by Spc. Tom Harrington, Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion 147th Aviation Regiment)

“This was really a phenomenal chance for me to get back into the mentality of the multi-faceted missions that we will be running now that I’m back stateside,” said Radford.

Some of the ground hook-up team Soldiers also recently joined the unit, returning from their initial entry training. One of these soldiers is Pvt. Ethan Skaggs, a UH-60 maintainer.  When asked how he felt after completing his first sling load hook up, Skaggs replied, “It was pretty exciting. I love my job!”

His platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Christopher Morris reinforced, “You should be out doing hands-on stuff, training that is going to be practical in the application of your job.  These are experiences that these guys are actually going to use somewhere down the line during the course of their careers in an aviation unit.”

The training that Bravo Company performed over their drill weekend was a success by all accounts, with every component being able to successfully sharpen their individual job skills.

Morris summed the weekend up perfectly, “This is what drill should be about.”

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