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Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

A Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment

As an aviator, I am cautious around anyone who uses the word “easy.” Just because a mission appears to be simple does not mean it will turn out that way. It is our responsibility as pilots to conduct proper flight planning procedures and risk management to identify potential hazards in the mission before takeoff.

As it was, the mission I had been handed did appear relatively simple. I would pick up a team and drop them off at one of the remote sites in the terrain flight training area (TFTA) to conduct a noise abatement survey. The air mission request (AMR) called for a hovering altitude of 500, 1,000 and 2,000 feet for noise data collection. After three patterns around the landing zone (LZ) at three altitudes, I would land, pick up the team and return to base. The whole mission would take 30 minutes.

As a relatively new pilot in command (PC), I did not want to overlook any details. I planned the flight, calculated the fuel requirements and performance planning card, filled out the mission risk analysis worksheet, confirmed details with the AMR point of contact and printed mission packets. Weather was forecast for ceilings at 3,000 feet with 7 miles visibility and calm winds. The TFTA was next to a ridgeline, and weather typically degrades there first, so I would need to update frequently.

The morning of the flight, I briefed my co-pilot and crew and filled them in on the details. We updated weather and flew our passengers to the LZ. Upon drop-off, the noise abatement data collection team established communications over the radio and we took off to establish a pattern at 100 knots.

With the first two altitude checks accomplished, I switched duties with my co-pilot, at his request, for cockpit management practice and took the flight controls. I was sitting on the left and wanted a visual on the team in the LZ, so I started patterns to the left in a slow, climbing turn to 2,000 feet. The weather update had stated the ceilings at 3,000 feet, but when we reached 1,800 feet, the clouds appeared to be descending on us. My co-pilot radioed the team to let them know we could not accomplish the requested 2,000-foot hover but would be deviating to 1,500 feet.

I finished the turn and began a descent to a high hover. My co-pilot was making the 15-minute operations-normal call required in the TFTA when the aircraft started shuddering. My initial thought was I found some turbulence. I pushed forward on the cyclic just as my co-pilot looked over and asked, “Are we settling with power?” Of course, I was settling into my own downwash. We had already begun to fly out of it with the slightest forward movement, but I initiated a traffic pattern to realign the approach to a hover without a descent. We were able to hold the hover for the time required to collect noise data and get the team back to base on time.

As a PC and crewmember, it is my responsibility to not only provide a safe and efficient mission task for the customer, but also to communicate with the crew and get us all back home. It is important to implement an open communication environment and work together as a team. I was distracted by the physical implications of the event and the adverse weather, but my co-pilot immediately identified the situation we were in and offered assistance.

There is most definitely a reason it’s a two-person cockpit. I hope to continue to establish a climate that encourages teamwork and open communication throughout my Army career, both in and out of the cockpit.

  • 25 February 2024
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 161
  • Comments: 0
Categories: On-DutyAviation