US National Guardsmen train Canadian Chinook Crews
The need for hands-on training on CH-47 Chinook helicopters brought Canadian Forces aircrews heading to Afghanistan to the New York Army National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Rochester, NY, first.
Aviation soldiers from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation, who returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan in April 2008, used their Chinooks and some upstate New York snow to train the Canadians on Afghan flying conditions from Jan. 12 to 25.
The snow was a stand in for the ubiquitous Afghan mountain dust, explained Capt Eric Fritz, an instructor pilot with 3rd Batallion, 126th Aviation. Capt Fritz put together a two-week training program to prepare the Canadians for an upcoming Afghan deployment.
The members of the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron and 430e Escadre tactique d'hélicoptères will be operating Chinooks in Kandahar Province.
The Canadian Forces requested CH-47 training from the National Guard Bureau, which, in turn, tasked the 126th Aviation soldiers to provide the training.
"Everybody jumped at the opportunity to provide the training and transmit Company B's experience and information to the Canadians," said Col Michael Bobeck, New York State Army Aviation Officer. "It makes everybody operate safer and allows us to accomplish the mission."
The first week of training focused on classroom briefings and battlefield scenarios and daylight flying operations. The second week was spent perfecting night flying skills. The training plan climaxed with a simulated air assault. All training flights took place within 100 miles (160 km) of the Rochester flight facility.
The effect of landing and taking off in the light snow-fall around Rochester during the training period provided the Canadians with the same experience they'll get coping with ever-present dust on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, Capt Fritz said.
"The New York National Guard has been very accommodating because it's all been last minute for us," said Capt Martin LeFrancois of 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. "Now that we have six Chinooks waiting for us in Afghanistan, the training program that they prepared for us will be really beneficial."
Because the Canadian aviators normally operate the CH-146 Griffon helicopter (similar to the American UH-1 helicopter used extensively during the Vietnam War), the Chinook training also served as transition training.
By Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade - US Department of Defense
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