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on Apr 19, 2017

What is An Army Aviator?
by Thomas W. Owens © 1971
Between the innocence of enlistment and the dignity of retirement, one can find a delightful soldier called an ARMY AVIATOR. This pilot comes in assorted sizes, weights, ranks and colors, but all follow the same creed: To fly every second of every minute of every hour of every day, protesting about crew rest (their only weapon) until their last flight is finished and he gets word that all the aircraft are in maintenance.
They are found everywhere -- on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around, or jumping to every aircraft in the Army inventory. Wives love them, non-rated people envy them, maintenance and supply tolerate them, their branch ignores them, and heaven protects them. This pilot is dashing with a moustache on his face, beauty with a brand new aircraft, wisdom with a star on his wings, and the hope of the future with a maxed officer's efficiency report in his pocket.
When you are busy, an Army Aviator is an inconsiderate, bothersome, intruding chatter of noise. When you want him to make a good impression, his brains turn to jelly or else he becomes a savage sadistic kamikaze pilot bent on destroying the aircraft and himself with it.
The Aviator is a composite -- he has the appetite of a horse, the digestion of a sword sallower, the drinking habits of an alcoholic, the curiosity of a cat, the lungs of a dictator, the war stories of "Sky king", the shyness of a mad bull, the tactfulness of a steel trap, the enthusiasm of a South American sloth and when he flies something he has five thumbs on each hand.
He likes days off, survival knifes, day light missions, Christmas leave, aviation books, his co-pilot, TDY trips, flying (in his natural habitat), happy hour, large aircraft, the unit Commander, women, weekends, and a PCS move to a fixed wing flight detachment, but not necessarily in that order. He doesn't care much for field problems, postage stamp size landing zones, marathon safety meetings, mandatory social functions, instrument check rides, Army regulations without pictures, indecision, barbers, "must go night low level training mission", or the flight surgeon's probing finger.
Nobody else gets up any earlier or stays up any later, gets any hotter or any colder in a given day. Nobody else gets so much fun out of diving on targets, dodging wires and trees, flying VIP's, while dancing with a max gust wind spread. Nobody else can cram into one survival vest a rusty weapon, a week's supply of tootsie roll pops, an empty map case, two signal flares, six packs of cigarettes, a chunk of unknown substance and a genuine supersonic flight school graduation ring with a secret compartment.
An Army Aviator is a magical creature -- you can kick him out of the Army, but the Army won't function without him. You can get him out of your office, but you can't get him out of your mind. You might as well give up -- he is your pilot, your maintenance officer, your boss and your contemporary -- a moustache-faced, assorted size, girl-chasing drunk. But when the Ground Commander goes to work in the morning with only the shattered pieces of his hopes and dreams, the PROFESSIONAL ARMY AVIATOR can make him feel like a king when he transmits those four voluntary words - "We're on short final."

on Apr 19, 2017

THANKS for that reprint!

Ft Rucker Class of 1960. Yes, there were Helicopters way back then!
Fun in the H-13, business with the H34 and those Twin Rotor "Banana's" and some L-19 flyng.

on Apr 21, 2017

Then some better themselves with a lateral to the Coast Guard.

on Apr 19, 2017

How many new pilots are trained per year. Didn't know it was all done at Rucker.

on Apr 19, 2017

They call it Mother Rucker. The birthplace of every army aviator. My father was one of the first (post air force) Army Aviators, graduating from West Point in 1955. He went to basic flight school in New Braunsfield TX and instrument flight school in Oakland CA. I don't actually know where he learned to fly helicopters. He did work there in the early 1960's on safety programs. My sister and I were born at Mother Rucker.

on Apr 19, 2017

How many are washed out or drop out at Rucker? Is it more or less than the USN or USAF? I believe the Army does not screen candidates before Rucker, like the other services. Learning to fly a helicopter is wickedly difficult. Fixed wing usually solo about 13 hours. Helicopter takes something like 20 hours to learn to hover. How many hours to solo for a candidate at Rucker

on Apr 19, 2017

I don't know about the Army but I (USMC) was hovering by my 3rd flight which is about 6hrs. That was 37 years ago and before simulators. You won't be in the program if it takes you 20 hrs.

on Apr 19, 2017

Ft Rucker Class of 1968. Yes, there were Helicopters way back then!
I'll never forget them....UH-1C, 1D & 1H Aircraft Maintenance School. 67N20, Class 69-96.

on Apr 19, 2017

My brother, Stanley, was there during his service in WWII. Are there any other vets of this time out there? If so, please contact me at verbitcompany@earthlink.com to connect.

on Apr 19, 2017

Went to AIT there in 86 and took first flight in a helicopter, came back later for flight school. I remember all my classmates wanting to finish and leave Rucker, I told them they would quickly change their minds and want to come back. The lucky ones did, me not so lucky

on Apr 19, 2017

Class 66-2 then direct to VN . Todays Army Aviators are in a class quiet different from the mid-60's folks. They are smarter, quicker,and perhaps more professional . In combat they are more deadly ( due to the weapons available to them ). They are better led. We are damn lucky to have them. Commanders still need realistic crew rest procedures though!

on Apr 19, 2017

"they are smarter",in high tech stuff,yes.But that stuff didn't exist back then."more professional",no way.I flew two tours in RVN as a CE.First as a H model ce,second as a scout.Our pilots were extremely professional,and they could drink a lot too,lol." more deadly",I'll give you that one.Last and certainly not the least is,"better led" Since I flew both tours in an AIR CAV Trp,our CO's were field grade,and there were none better.They were smart and flexible as air cav combat is very fluid.Us old timers helped write the book on Army air power.We learned from our mistakes etc.We were also hamstrung by washington too. Oh yeah,the "quicker" comment.Try flying scouts in a 58a model.Thank God we didn't have those pos for long and went back to our OH-6's.Our snake drivers above us were right on the money once we took fire.Their reactions were incredible.That is all,
scouts out.
RVN,70-71-72

on Apr 19, 2017

Enjoyed that and hadn't seen it before.

Dustoff 30 (Class 66-17)

on Apr 20, 2017

Saber 25, hence Cobras 71-72 and the Spring offensive with Air Cav. Hadn't seen the Army Aviator defined in many years. Good for grins :-)

on Apr 20, 2017

AF helicopter pilots go through at Ft. Rucker as well. There is basic helicopter training and a special transition course for AF fixed-wing pilots which is much shorter. After fixed-wing jets, helicopter flying is surprisingly similar once you realize that hovering is nothing more than flying formation with a rock or a tree. After Ft. Rucker, AF pilots go to Kirtland AFB at Albuquerque for advanced training in rescue and special ops. I spent 10 years in jets (4 years each instructing T-37 and T-38) including a tour in Vietnam in AC-119K gunships. Then 10 years in various models of the Huey doing combat rescue, missile site support, water survival school support and Special Air Mission Europe. I absolutely loved both the fixed and the rotary wing time.

on Apr 20, 2017

Fond memories. Class of 70-46, the "Brown Hats". Had the CH-47 transition, then to VN. Wound up in 147th Assault Support, in CH-47's, -B's and -C--'s. As things were winding down, 147th transferred all aircraft to Wheeler AAF in Hawaii, where they still are today. The type is 50 plus years old, and still flying...amazing.

on Apr 21, 2017

Orange Hats, 72-4. UH-1 and OH-58 qualifications. On to RVN. 1st Avn Brigade, The Deans. UH-1 D and H models. Many great and meaningful memories.

on Apr 23, 2017

Class of 65-21, Phase I started at Ft. Wolters, Texas with Phases II and III at "Mother Rucker." Forthy eight made it (plus 3 reservist) -- can't remember how many started. Off to RVN with subsequent orders to return to Rucker as a IP. Lucked out and orders changed to Europe.

on Apr 23, 2017

ORWAC class of 65-22, Yellow Hats. Great memories of the OH-23D at Wolters and the A & B model Huey at Rucker. Served with A Troop, 1/9 Cav, 1st Cav in VN. My best to all who served.

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