Deployed Forces: Crew chiefs provide ‘eyes and ears’

| July 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Master Sgt. Duff McFadden
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs 

At center, Chief Warrant Officer Dan Hansen, pilot, and crew chief Sgt. Fred Oser, left, both of 2nd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, listen as Chief Warrant Officer Matt Lamoreur, pilot, delivers operational intelligence during a preflight brief on the flight line in Mosul, July 2. (Gregory Gieske | U.S. Army Photo)CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq— A crew chief carries an immense amount of responsibility from maintenance and daily inspections, assisting pilots in maneuvering the aircraft, providing security and loading and unloading passengers.

“If you really think about it, it’s a very dangerous job,” said Spc. Tony Moreno, Company A., 2nd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. “On top of your regular job stress, you have a 16,000-pound piece of metal that could fall out of the sky at any time. And then, you’re flying around a place where people could shoot you out of the sky.” 

The Wheeler Army Airfield unit is currently deployed to Mosul, Iraq, where its 20 enlisted Soldiers and officers are responsible for air transport, direct support and general support missions for the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Div.

“The way we operate, if we don’t have people looking for a mistake, it could cost several people their lives,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dan Hansen, Co. A, 2-25th CAB. “When we’re up front, our field of reference is what we see. Our situational awareness and everything having to do with our passengers depends on (the crew chiefs) once we land and take off. When it comes to obstacle clearance, you don’t question what (the crew chiefs) say — you react.”

Moreno’s day begins early, as he works on the preflight log, three hours prior to flight time, tracking faults, hours flown and inspections. 

“Once the logbook is completed,” Moreno said, “it’s time to load up the gear needed for the mission, including helmets, goggles, protective equipment, coolers and weapons.”

Next, the helicopter is inspected. Crew chiefs Moreno and Sgt. Fred Oser spend quality time with the aircraft, ensuring everything is fully functional. These preflight checks are part of a daily ritual, with the Soldiers following specific guidelines that emerge into a well-practiced pattern. After the crew chiefs have completed their examination, it’s the pilots’ turn.

“You want to have as many eyes as you can look over the bird,” Moreno said. “You can’t pull over onto the side of the road if you have an issue, so it’s good to find the problems before the rotors turn.”

“(The crew chiefs) have to know how each pilot wants the aircraft set up, so they have to know each pilot’s idiosyncrasies,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matt Lamoreaux, Co. A, 2-25th CAB. “The crew chiefs have their official guidelines, but we have our own pet peeves, and they meet it without missing a beat.”

Information is then shared in the crew brief, providing insight into the day’s mission, aircraft limitations and search and rescue data, before going over worst-case scenarios.

The crew fires up the aircraft for its final checks; crew chiefs assist by confirming there’s movement on the collective, that rotors are pitched and engines are running properly. 

“From the warrant officers, to the entire crew, there’s no one guy in charge. It’s a team effort, with everyone working together to ensure the helicopter lifts off and sets down safely,” Moreno said.

Category: Deployed Forces, News

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