U.S. Army battles rough Alaska weather during North Slope aviation training
Inside the Gates
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Dense fog and low clouds painted the North Slope horizon as the hissing sound of U.S. Army helicopters filled the cold, Arctic air.
The 1-52nd General Support Aviation Battalion, along with two UH-60 Black Hawk and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, participated in an army training exercise in northern Alaska close to Prudhoe Bay from Aug. 17-26. During the North slope exercise 2022. Giving personnel a chance to practice flying in an environment that is very different from home at Fort Wainwright.
“Frankly a new environment for all of us,” Capt. Jacob Norris, from the U.S. Army, said. “We have a huge luxury of being in such a diverse space that allows us to do mountain flying, low-end flying and now the coastal muskeg area.”
The battalion practiced sling load and long-range flight operations, in addition to preparing a game plan of support that they would have in the Northern slope in case they find themselves running operations outside of Fort Wainwright.
“Trying to expand our reach, test our pilots in a little bit of a new environment,” Norris said. “... See what we can do as we separate ourselves from our main organization right here.”
According to Norris, flying in the northern part of the state is completely different than the skies above Fort Wainwright.
“Flying around here at Wainwright, you have a lot of the community that is built up,” Norris said. “You have cell phone towers. You have rising terrain.”
Above the Arctic Circle, the team is faced with flat terrain and weather they are not used to, so finding support is necessary for preparing for a successful mission.
“It was a lot of maybe trial and error to go up and see what was available for us where we could get support from,” Norris said. “... I think we really mapped out a lot of the area where we would be able to get support and build that picture for the 11th Airborne.”
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