Aircrews get high in Colorado

Story by: Capt. Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

HAATS Trip August 2013

Aviation Soldiers from Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation and 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade fly by Pike’s Peak just outside of Colorado Springs, Colo. The aircrews were en route to Gypsum, Colo. where they attended the High Altitude Aviation Training School (HAATS) in August 2013.¬† (photo by Sgt. Tyler Hellard, Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation)

GYPSUM, Colo. — Attending what is the one of the premiere rotary wing schools in the world for High Altitude Aviation Flight Training, several Kentucky National Guard aviation Soldiers flew across the country to Colorado to participate in some of the best training the military has to offer.

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Run by the Colorado Army National Guard, the High Altitude Aviation Training School is designed to train pilots from any branch of the military as well as all over the world, from Slovenia to the Republic of Georgia. HAATS focuses specifically on power management within the aircraft. The mountainous terrain from the Colorado Rockies provides a great training opportunity to learn aspects of managing the helicopter during periods of reduced power availability. This is created by the atmospheric conditions encountered at higher altitudes.

“The only time you can have too much gas on board a helicopter is if you’re on fire, or landing at 14,000 feet,” remarked Chief Warrant Officer 2 Josh Ison, Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation, who attended the course.

Flight crews consisting of eight Soldiers¬†from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th aviation and 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade transported two UH-60 Blackhawks across the country to take part in this unique school and learn what the flight instructors dub as “increased situational awareness.”

HAATS Trip August 2013

A flight crew from Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation conducted high altitude pinnacle landings Aug. 29, 2013. The unit attended the High Altitude Aviation Training School (HAATS) in Gypsum, Colo. (photo by Capt. Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

“The tools learned here are not only for power management techniques in the mountains of Colorado and Afghanistan, but also for your situational awareness in the cockpit during all modes of flight,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeff Girouard, Senior Instructor Pilot for the Colorado National Guard. “Power management is a crucial skill to master and will get you in trouble just as easily at sea level as it will at 10,000 feet.”

The Soldiers spent a week flying nearly five hours a day throughout the Colorado Rockies. The crews learned how to read the effects of the wind and use it to their advantage as well as overcoming some of the visual illusions encountered when landing on pinnacles, in valleys and into confined areas.

HAATS Trip August 2013

Aviation Soldiers from Bravo Co. 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation make a pit stop at Lake County Airport, the highest airfield in the United States. The crew attended the High Altitude Aviation Training School (HAATS) in Gypsum, Colo. August 2013. (photo submitted)

During some cross-country flight training, the flight crews also got the opportunity to land at Lake County Airport, Colo, also known as “Leadville,” and earn their certificate for navigating to the highest airport in the United States at 9,927 feet.

“I can’t believe all that goes into flying proficiently in and around the mountains,” said Sgt. Andy Barrett, Bravo Co. Crew Chief. “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for sure.”

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