22 August 2006

Eight Vee's of Three

I was Supply Officer for the Battalion, and for once I was glad to be on the ground, not in the air.

When I got off active duty, I joined this Unit of the Army Reserve.......
Two companies and a Battalion HQ, 27 UH-1 "Hueys" split between them.

The Unit was based at a local civilian airport and was renting space in a civilian hangar.
The Federal Government, looking for ways to economize, found cheaper space for us at an Air Force Base 14 miles distant.

We had to move.

It was a big deal. Moving the aircraft, personnel, and all support services was a daunting task. The Boss, a Lieutenant Colonel, wanted to make an impression on everyone in the area to announce our arrival at our new home. His plan was to move the Battalion as a whole...... fly all the flyable aircraft in formation to the Air Force Base, do a "fly-by" low, down the runway, then break off and land individually at our new digs.
The Air Force refused his request for a fly-by......
"dangerous, and against regulations to perform an airshow demonstration", they said.

The Boss called me and the rest of his staff together to discuss it. We were irritated by the Air Force's inflexibility.

Moving day was gorgeous....... not a cloud in the sky. I was standing at our new hangar with much of the rest of the battalion, anxiously awaiting what we knew would be a beautiful sight: 24 of our 27 Hueys were flyable and would be in the coming formation........
8 Vee's with three Hueys in each Vee.

A single Huey makes a lotta noise. Two dozen of them in a close formation can approach the threshhold of pain. When the formation climbed above the treeline 14 miles away, we could hear 'em. Actually, you could feel the noise....... a pounding in your chest. The volume increased by the second. The 14 mile flight took just under ten minutes. We heard the formation for 6 full minutes before we caught our first glimpse of it.

I'm disappointed to report to you I didn't have a camera to record the event. It was glorious.
As a Charley Model Huey and Cobra Gunship pilot in Viet Nam, I gave support to many such formations- some even larger........
providing Gunship cover to large Infantry units being inserted in the field. But I had never been on the ground to actually experience such a flock flying by.

The Boss got everyone lined up on a two mile final approach.
All but a handful of the pilots in the formation were highly experienced Viet Nam veterans......
the formation was tight and disciplined.
All of us on the ground were transfixed, proud, and in awe.
That wonderful sound continued to grow.

I'm sure I had a wicked grin on my face as I watched this magnificent flight of Hueys continue down the runway at 15 feet of altitude.........
the "against regulation" fly-by!
I smiled, knowing EXACTLY what had happened.

We had discussed it in the Staff meeting and resolved the problem.
On short final, The Boss keyed his radio and spoke these words:
"XXXXX Tower, we have a little problem and will be performing a go-round."

And the tower's response?
"Roger that".

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish I had been there. i remember standing in sub zro weather in the snow watching flight after flight go over. It's still a good memory.

OlePrairiedog said...

As another Snake Driver, and having seen the same formation from above, it is awesome.

The Old Man said...

A leetle judicious stupidity works well with the Air Farce... Gotta give 'em props - they send the officers off to war, not the EM.

Rubberducky1.0 said...

I wish I had gotten to see that.

I do have pictures of our last company wide meeting in Las Vegas where all 200+ Silverstate choppers came in from all over the western US, but sadly I missed that too.

Oh well. Don't remember if I told you or not, but Inst. is out of the way and Commercial check ride is scheduled tentatively for the 3rd of next month. I'm smoking now.

P.S. I like being a blogger lurker.

Mike said...

It is amazing that this incredible machine is still in service and being upgraded.

At 2,625 SHP, I think they fixed the initial power problems. :)

Max cruise near 160 kts, dive speed near 200 kts...

84% parts commonality with the Cobra...

awesome!

http://bellhelicopter.com/en/aircraft/military/pdf/UH1Y_PG_04_web.pdf

Terry said...

Outstanding view it must of been. In SPI when the Viet Nam Memorial was dedicated, a missing vee flew over the dedication. Not a dry eye insight.
It was one of the most important parts to the men that were their.

I wish you had that picture.