Hunter Helicopters Come Home - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/25/06

Hunter Helicopters Come Home

A Blackhawk helicopter flies out of the Port of Savannah. A Blackhawk helicopter flies out of the Port of Savannah.

The sounds of helicopters could be heard throughout the Georgia Ports Authority on Saturday, as the Third Infantry Division's choppers took to the skies. The Army unit has been back for almost a month, but their equipment just arrived this week. Now, the division has the big job of getting these flying machines ready to go all over again.

"The primary mission is to get these birds back to home base," explained CW5 Mike Fry, the Aviation Brigade's Maintenance Officer, "to get them postured so we can continue the training mission."

Chief Warrant Officer Mike Fry is the man on that mission. He's the logistic officer in charge of getting each Apache, Blackhawk and Chinook out of the hanger and in the air. It is not an easy task. They have to be put back together, one blade at a time.

"To get the right amount of parts at the right time to be able to support those components and replace them as necessary is everything about what we do," he said.

Before the helicopters ever leave the hangar, they have to be fully inspected from cockpit to tail rotor. Because of the harsh weather in Iraq, any piece of sand or problem with a nut or bolt could potentially send them crashing down to earth.

"We flew in excess of 80-thousand hours on our combined fleet of aircraft," said Chief Warrant Officer Fry, "so they have about 4 times what they'd have if they were home, so they got rode hard."

Now the pilots will take these military machines on a last ride to Hunter Army Airfield, where they will be prepped and ready for their next trip, which could be back to Iraq.

The entire moving process takes about seven to ten days. After the move, all the helicopters, trucks and tanks will be inspected, repaired and cleaned.

Reported by: Andrew Davis, adavis@wtoc.com

 

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