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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Flying "Pongos" - Part 3

Continuation from here...

There were about 200 helicopters at Ft Wolters to cater for the training and they were parked about 2 or 3 km from our classrooms, hence we have to take the shuttle bus to get there. To go there was a problem but to find the helicopter was also a headache because there were rows and rows of helicopter parked in an apron of a few km big.

The bus driver, being an experienced man and had served at Ft Wolters for a long could always be relied upon to find our helicopter.

Although, I found the flying tough initially, I managed to get through the program and graduated to the flying tactical phase at Ft Rucker. 

 UH 1D Huey Iroquis
  
At Ft Rucker, all of us were accommodated in the Bachelor’s Officers Quarters (BOQ). Some of the rooms were simple with the bed, tables, chairs and sofa together in one room. I had the pleasure of being given a bigger room with the bedroom and the living room separate. My room also had the kitchenette attached.  So, most of the cooking was done in my room. All the rooms were equipped with a refrigerator and with the bathrooms attached.

This accommodation was very comfortable and was given to us free of charge.

 In front of my BOQ – note the flight uniform, we all flew in the OG green fatique

Ft Rucker flying was different from the previous one. We trained on the Iroquois UH 1A  – D series, the same type helicopter that were used in Vietnam. Most of the flying was done tactically. During the tactical deployment phase, we had to sleep in the field in make shift huts near our helicopters.  

This was to simulate the conditions in Vietnam. If we were attacked even at night, we have to start up the helicopter and fly off to another airfield just like what they did in Vietnam. 


In the cockpit of the UH ID Iroquis

Most of the flying here were done in formation.  The simulated troop lift, medical evacuation, load carrying under-slung were done in formation of 6 helicopters simulating a flight. Sometimes this could be frightening as we were all student pilots and had very few hours on the Huey. We even flew formation at night, though a bit of a loose formation.

During my stay at Ft Rucker and Ft Wolters, there were a lot of crashes, sometimes fatal. The airspace was always busy with helicopters here and there and if we do not follow laid down procedures, accidents were bound to happen. Just imagine a hundred helicopters flying in a restricted airspace by student pilots, anything can happen, so we have to be on special alert all the time. We have to look out for the other helicopters and avoid them if they come too near to us. Sometimes the other pilots become too engrossed in doing their exercises and were not aware of the others in the area.

 Deep sea fishing at Panama City, the two guys behind me are officers from the Royal Thai Air Force

  Only one fish ?
  
From left Capt Hanafi, 2LT James Thompson, self and 2 LT Steven during the Visit to the 6 Flags of Texas.

To be continued.....

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