M astering the M achine
Also in this Issue: 70 Y ears as the s tandard : a W orld F amous a nniversarY t he o rigins o F the n av Y ’ s n e W C od a ir C ra F t , the C mv-22B o spre Y F oundation F or the F uture , t odaY t he n ext g eneration – e m B raC ing t e C hnolog Y to e xpand on the t ried and t rue Winter 2023 Number 159
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey: The World’s Most Versatile Aircraft
The development of new technology is central to the integration and transformation of military operations. The most versatile and game-changing technologies have enabled operators to complete more tasks with less resources. Examples throughout history such as improvements in the speed and range of vehicles, production improvements, or the innovation of new ideas to solve previously unsolvable problems, prove that technology has radically shaped national defense strategies.
The V-22 Osprey is one such example of revolutionary technology. The Osprey combines the vertical takeoff, hover, and landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency, and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft.
The Osprey’s multi-mission advantage across a full range of military operations improves mission efficiency and reduces logistics with a demonstrated legacy of mission success over its 30 years of operation.
Initially developed as an aircraft for the United States Marine Corps to conduct combat and assault support, the Osprey can conduct diverse missions throughout the world’s most demanding operating environments. “The Osprey represents Bell Boeing’s incredible ability to reimagine the experience of flight and disrupt an entire industry,” said Kurt Fuller, Bell V-22 Vice President and Bell Boeing Program Director. Over time, additional service branches added the V-22 to their aircraft fleet with specific modifications to suit the needs of their forces. Today, the Osprey supports the Marines Corps, Air Force, Navy, and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force as the first international customer. With a fleet of over 400+ aircraft accumulating more than 700,000 flight hours, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey enhances versatility and interoperability throughout the world.
The MV-22 Osprey allows Marines to quickly deploy troops, equipment, and supplies from ships and land bases with the speed, range, and versatility not previously possible by any single platform. The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) CV-22’s primary mission is to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply missions for Air Commandos worldwide at a moment’s notice. The CMV-22B, the program’s most recent variant conducts fleet logistics, or carrier onboard delivery (COD) with significant increases in capability and operational flexibility.
“The V-22 will be around for a long time, and we expect it will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the Department of Defense,” added Fuller. As the needs of the military continue to evolve, so too does the Osprey in a way only a tiltrotor can.
Winter 2023 ISSUE 159
About the cover: MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to the 'Vipers" of HSM 48 during preflight preparations aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68)
Rotor Review (ISSN: 1085-9683)
is published quarterly by the Naval Helicopter Association, Inc. (NHA), a California nonprofit 501(c)(6) corporation. NHA is located in Building 654, Rogers Road, NASNI, San Diego, CA 92135. Views expressed in Rotor Review are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policies of NHA or United States Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Rotor Review is printed in the USA. Periodical rate postage is paid at San Diego, CA. Subscription to Rotor Review is included in the NHA or corporate membership fee. A current corporation annual report, prepared in accordance with Section 8321 of the California Corporation Code, is available on the NHA Website at www.navalhelicopterassn.org.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Naval Helicopter Association, P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578.
Rotor Review supports the goals of the association, provides a forum for discussion and exchange of information on topics of interest to the rotary force and keeps membership informed of NHA activities. As necessary, the President of NHA will provide guidance to the Rotor Review Editorial Board to ensure Rotor Review content continues to support this statement of policy as the Naval Helicopter Association adjusts to the expanding and evolving Rotary Wing and Tilt Rotor Communities .
FOCUS: Mastering the Machine
Mastering the Machine: “Gradually, then Suddenly"................................................................28
By CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.)
Human Factors in the Cockpit: It’s All of Our Problem........................................................30
By LCDR Eric “Pennies” Page, USN
ADTS and Moving Map Capabilities in the Personnel Recovery (PR) Environment.......33
By LT Joe “WORM” Rodgers, USN
Turning Shadow to Light: Empowering Grassroots Navy Software Development..........34
By LCDR Cory Poudrier, USN
“It’s Not the Plane, It’s the Pilot, Mav”.......................................................................................38
By LT Nick "SEGA" Padleckas, USN
Foundation for the Future,Today.................................................................................................40
By LT Zach “PuK” Pennington, USN
Increased Firepower Provides Unique Capability for Combat Rescue..............................42 From 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
HSC’s Double Bubble Trouble.....................................................................................................44
By LT I.M. “Fridge” Grover, USN
Return to Basics..................................................................................................................................26.
By LT Daniel “Roadkill” Lloyd, USN
The Fleet Fly-In and NHA Events - a Trustee's POV.................................................................27
By CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.)
The Origins of the Navy’s New COD Aircraft, the CMV-22B Osprey...............................46
By CDR John C. Ball, USN (Ret,)
Fisher House - A Sailor’s Home Away from Home................................................................52
By CAPT Bob Rutherford, USN (Ret.)
Rotary Wing Aviation—A Family Tradition...............................................................................54
By CDR Dave “Brisket” Kiser, USN
Joint Integration Abroad in Japan..................................................................................................55
By LT Ruthvik “Marbles” Kumar. USN
The Ten Commandments of being an Executive Assistant (EA)............................................56
By CAPT John Coyne, USN (Ret.)
Rotor Review Editors Emeriti
Wayne Jensen - John Ball - John Driver - Sean Laughlin - Andy Quiett Mike Curtis - Susan Fink
Bill Chase - Tracey Keefe - Maureen Palmerino - Bryan Buljat - Gabe Soltero
Todd Vorenkamp - Steve Bury - Clay Shane - Kristin Ohleger - Scott LippincottAllison Fletcher Ash Preston - Emily Lapp - Mallory Decker- - Caleb Levee
Shane Brenner - Shelby Gillis - Michael Short
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 2
The Next Generation – Embracing Technology to Expand on the Tried and True
Jade Lepke, USN
Report from the Rising Sun..................................................................................................22
Individuality in the Uniformed Service: Breaking the Cycle of Hypervigilance
By LCDR Rob “OG” Swain, USN (CVW-5)
View from the Labs ...............................................................................................................24
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Industry and Technology
The Differential Advantage of the CMV-22B.....................................................................58
By CAPT Christopher “chet” Misner, USN (Ret.)
Leonardo Subsidiary AgustaWestland to Exercise Option for the Production and Delivery of 26 TH-73A Thrasher Lot IV Training Helicopters......................................59 Leonardo Press Release
EDITOR -IN - CHIEF
LT Annie "Frizzle" Cutchen, USN email@example.com
Allyson "Clown" Darroch firstname.lastname@example.org
CDR John Ball, USN (Ret.) email@example.com
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LT Andrew "Gonzo" Gregory, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPT JoEllen Drag-Oslund: Female Naval Aviator and Trailblazer................................64
“It’s because of her that we are here”
By LT Audrey “Pam” Petersen,
World Famous Vanguard of HM-14 Fly Final Flight..........................................................66
By CDR Nicklaus Smith, USN
70 Years as the Standard: a World Famous Anniversary..................................................68
By LT Alex “CRItR” Hosko, USN
HT-28 Hellions Reinvigorate Military Partnerships..........................................................69
By John Richards
Book Review: The Dream Machine by Richard Whittle
Movie Review: Desert One
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.) Radio
LT Fred "Prius" Shaak, USN email@example.com
LT Joshua "Hotdog" Holsey, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
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LT Jared "Dogbeers" Jackson, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
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LT Marco Tinari, USCG firstname.lastname@example.org
LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.) email@example.com
©2023 Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., all rights reserved
.......................................................................................................................6 Executive Director's View.........................................................................................................7
President of Membership Report.................................................................................8 National President's Message................................................................................................10
Fund Update ......................................................................................................14
Change of Command
Check ....................................................................................................73 Engaging
Thank You to Our Corporate Members - Your Support Keeps Our Rotors Turning
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Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 4
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Naval Helicopter Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578
(619) 435-7139 www.navalhelicopterassn.org
President....................................CDR Emily Stellpflug, USN
Vice President ........................................CDR Eli Owre, USN
Executive Director...............CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
Business Development..............................Ms. Linda Vydra
Managing Editor, Rotor Review .......Ms. Allyson Darroch
Retired Affairs ..................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Legal Advisor...............CDR George Hurley, Jr., USN (Ret.)
VP Corp. Membership..........CAPT Tres Dehay, USN (Ret.)
VP Awards.................................CDR Philip Pretzinger, USN
VP Membership ...............................LCDR James Teal, USN
VP Symposium 2023 .............................CDR Eli Owre, USN
Secretary..........................................LT Jimmy Gavidia, USN
NHA Branding and Gear...............LT Shaun Florance USN
Senior HSM Advisor.............AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN
Senior HSC Advisor ......AWSCM Darren Hauptman, USN
Senior VRM Advisor........AWFCM Jose Colon-Torres, USN
Directors at Large
Chairman...............................RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Gene Ager, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Tony Dzielski, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Greg Hoffman, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Mario Mifsud, USN (Ret)*
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Matt Schnappauf, USN (Ret.)*
LT Alden Marton, USN*
AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN*
* Also serving as Scholarship Fund board members
Junior Officers Council
Nat’l Pres............................ LT Alden "CaSPR" Marton, USN
Region 1.........................LT Ryan "Shaggy" Rodriguez, USN
Region 2 .......................................LT Rob "JORTS" Platt, USN
Region 3 ....................... LT Bryan “Schmitty” Schmidt, USN
Region 4 ...................................LT Lei “REPTAR” Acuna, USN
Region 5..................LT Connor "Humpty" McKiernan, USN
Region 6....................................LT Robert "DB" Macko, USN
NHA Scholarship Fund
President .............................CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
Executive VP/ VP Ops ...CAPT Todd Vandegrift, USN (Ret.)
VP Plans................................................CAPT Jon Kline, USN
VP Scholarships ..............................Ms. Nancy Ruttenberg
VP Finance ...................................CDR Greg Knutson, USN
Treasurer........................................................Ms. Jen Swasey
Webmaster........................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Social Media .............................................................VACANT
CFC/Special Projects ...............................................VACANT
Region 1 - San Diego
Directors ......................................CAPT Chris Richard, USN
CAPT Ed Weiler, USN
CAPT Sam Bryant, USN
CAPT Nathan Rodenbarger, USN President ............................ CDR Dave Vogelgesang, USN
Region 2 - Washington D.C.
Director ........................................ CAPT Andy Berner, USN President ...........................................CDR Tony Perez, USN Co-President.................................CDR Pat Jeck, USN (Ret.)
Region 3 - Jacksonville
Director...................................CAPT Teague Laguens, USN President........................................CDR Dave Bizzarri, USN
Region 4 - Norfolk
Director...................,........................CAPT Ed Johnson, USN President ............................ CDR Santico Valenzuela, USN
Region 5 - Pensacola
Director ...........................................CAPT Jade Lepke, USN President .........................................CDR Annie Otten, USN '22 Fleet Fly-In Coordinator..LT Connor McKiernan, USN
Region 6 - OCONUS
Director .........................................CAPT Derek Brady, USN President ................................CDR Jonathan Dorsey, USN
NHA Historical Society
President............................CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)
VP/Webmaster..................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Secretary................................LCDR Brian Miller, USN (Ret.)
Treasurer...........................CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
S.D. Air & Space Museum.....CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
NHAHS Committee Members
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mike Reber, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Jim O’Brien, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Curtis Shaub, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mike O’Connor, USN (Ret.)
CDR John Ball, USN (Ret.)
CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
CDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Master Chief Dave Crossan, USN (Ret.)
Navy Helicopter Association Founders
CDR D.J. Hayes, USN (Ret.)
CAPT C.B. Smiley, USN (Ret.)
CAPT J.M. Purtell, USN (Ret.)
CDR H.V. Pepper, USN (Ret.)
CAPT A.E. Monahan, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mark R. Starr, USN (Ret.)
CAPT A.F. Emig, USN (Ret.)
Mr. H. Nachlin
H.F. McLinden, USN (Ret.)
W. Straight, USN (Ret.)
P.W. Nicholas, USN (Ret.)
Mastering the Machine
By RADM D.H. “Dano” Fillion, USN (Ret.)
Sea story: After I transitioned from flying the reliable and fun SH-3G to the Unbelievable SH-60B, I ran into a high school football buddy at home in Charleston, SC, Scott (my buddy) joined the Marines after college and like me, he was home on leave. We reconnected over a few beers (surprise). When he heard that I was now flying the SH-60 he asked: “So did you transition to that aircraft because it is the most technologically advanced helo in the Navy?” I thought of just saying yes because the newness and capabilities certainly did play into my decision but the most accurate answer to his question was; “Scott, I transitioned to the H-60 because after flying H-3s in Puerto Rico (my 1st squadron was VC-8, Rosey Roads), I wanted to fly an aircraft with an AIR CONDITIONER!” Stone cold fact, regardless of the reasoning, you all have as you continue to master your aircraft, as pilots, AWR/Ss, and amazing maintainers /support teams!
Going to push the metaphor button if you will let me; consider NHA as the “Machine” that all of you as members (and those of you who should be members) are mastering. NHA is only as good as the members who are willing to devote some effort to the “MACHINE.” I promise you, I/we at NHA Headquarters have not forgotten how busy you are in your professional and personal lives and when you dedicate time to NHA, it needs to have meaning, support you and your families’ efforts in the service of our country, build camaraderie/bonding/networks and be FUN! Just played in NHA Wild On Wings (WOW) Golf Tourney in Mayport, huge FUN! Everyone who participated was Mastering the Machine!
The organization that has the most interest in folks who fly, fight, maintain and support rotary wing aviation is NHA, stone cold fact! I wrote the paragraph above and have 100% tasked the NHA Board of Directors, the Trustees, all the NHA Officers, Volunteers, the NHA Headquarters Staff and the Chairman to ensure that everything NHA delivers has meaning, supports you and your families’ efforts in the service of our country, builds camaraderie/bonding/networks and is FUN! We, at NHA, are totally Committed, Not just involved, to delivering on that challenge!
Together we will “Master the Machine” that is your NHA!
“If you are in trouble anywhere in the world, an airplane can fly over and drop flowers, but a helicopter can land and save your life.”
As always, I am, V/r and CNJI (Committed Not Just Involved), Dano
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 6 Chairman’s Brief
Executive Director’s View
Mastering The Machine (NHA) – Take Two
By CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
HappyNew Year to all – in this column, I am rolling in hot, right behind RADM “Dano” Fillion.
Upon flight logbook review:
• Logged 117+ hours in the T-28B Trojan
• Logged 1,008+ hours in the SH-2F Seasprite
• Logged 1,725+ hours in the SH-60B Seahawk
In other words, I got real good in three specific aircraft. Meaning, I mastered each of these machines in keeping with the theme of this issue.
So, when it applies to our professional organization, mastering NHA means that members appreciate why they join and/or renew their membership – it is that simple – and they are involved.
The question … “Why NHA?” … has been baking in my mind since I took over as Executive Director in 2019. From my view almost four years later, the question needs to be restated and should read … “Why wouldn’t you join and stay current in your professional organization?” This became clear at the 2022 Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In (GCFFI) when I addressed this question, to the crowd in the Atrium, at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Mastering NHA recognizes that the organization is unique as we promote Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Rotary Wing, Tilt Rotor, and Unmanned Aviation. Its members include pilots, aircrewmen, and maintainers because that is how we operate and deploy – as a team, and that is also how we succeed.
NHA continues to get healthier with membership and volunteerism up. JOs and Aircrew themed the 2022 Symposium and GCFFI and then planned and executed both events for members – creating more connection professionally and personally, as well as enhancing the pure fun of gathering as members of the Rotary Wing / Tilt Rotor Community.
WE ARE A RELATIONSHIP ORGANIZATION. Meaning that the relationships we make at the squadron and aboard ships on deployment are lifelong, enriching, and purposeful. These same relationships continue downstream and remain powerful in our military careers, as well as when we transition to our next adventure outside of the service. We look after one another and pay it forward continuously. This awareness is the essence of mastering the NHA machine.
Nowhere is this “brotherhood and sisterhood” and sense of community more striking than was on display recently in Norfolk during a Santa Flight that originated out of HSC-2 on Saturday, 3 December – please see the full story on page 61.
Fleet Angel Santa Flight low pass over Oceanview Beach Front
Nuff said, 2023 will be a big year for Rotary Wing and Tilt Rotor Aviation beginning with HSM-41’s 40th Anniversary on 20 January followed by Sikorsky Aircraft’s 100th Year Anniversary as well as the 80th Year of Delivery of Sikorsky Helicopters to the Fleet. Another big milestone is the 50th Year Anniversary of the Induction of the First Six Female Naval Aviators into Naval Air Training. All of this will be on display at the 2023 NHA National Symposium at Harrah’s Resort Southern California from 17-19 May with a theme of … “Forging Legacy – Legends Past and Present!”
Lastly, we are returning to a printed Rotor Review Magazine and Region Stipend Checks in 2023 to continue to deliver value and enrich our professional organization as we all master NHA together.
So, please keep your membership profile up to date. If you should need any assistance at all, give us a call at (619) 435-7139 and we will be happy to help – you will get Linda, Mike, Allyson, or myself.
Warm regards with high hopes, Jim Gillcrist.
Every Member Counts / Stronger Together
We’ve Always Done It That Way
By Jim Stovall
We celebrate entrepreneurship and successful start-ups. These ventures come from new thinking and different ideas born out of invention, innovation, or improvement. When we consider how to move ahead in the future, we must recognize that the enemy is a mentality defined by the statement, “We’ve always done it that way.” The fastest way to never improve is to never change. Not all changes result in improvement, but no improvement comes from maintaining the status quo.
I’m reminded of the story about the bride who wanted to bake a ham for her new husband as her first home-cooked meal. She called her mother to ask the best way to do it, and her mother explained, “You begin by cutting off the end of the ham, then place the ham in a baking dish.” When the new bride asked her mother why she cut off the end of the ham, the mother had to admit she didn’t know, but she explained it was what her mother had told her. The bride decided to call her grandmother to try to solve the mystery of the ham. The grandmother had to admit she had no idea why she cut the end from the ham. It was simply what her mother had done.
The bride continued her quest by calling her great-grandmother in the nursing home. When she asked why she had cut off the end of the ham and why it seemed to be a family tradition, the great-grandmother responded, “I don’t know why anyone else cuts the end from the ham, but I did it because my pan was too small.”
One of the most powerful exercises you can undertake in your personal or professional life is a practice I call deconstruction. This endeavor is a mental process in which you consider everything you’re currently doing and ask, “Why?” Then you consider everything you’re not doing and ask, “Why not?” Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Everything needs to be placed under the microscope and scrutinized. There should not be any sacred cows in your life.
In the final analysis, all we have is our time, effort, and energy. If there’s a better way to utilize these assets, we must embrace it. Even if we undergo the process of deconstruction within an area of our life and determine everything is as it should be, it’s much like going to the doctor for a checkup and being given a clean bill of health.
As you go through your day today, question everything and embrace the possibilities.
Today’s the day!
About the Author
Jim Stovall is the president of the Emmy-award winning Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of more than 50 books—eight of which have been turned into movies. He is also a highly sought-after platform speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; or by phone at 918-627-1000
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 8
Whiting Field: The Past and the Present
By LCDR Bill "WYLD Bill" Teal, USN
Aswe start our ramp up for Symposium this spring, it is a great time to round up your wardroom to support NHA. As with past years, the Max Beep Award will be back up for grabs, which means cold hard cash for the winners. Stay tuned to your email to learn about deadlines and the new structure. In the meantime, this is a great time to check your membership status and update your profile. You can also encourage your squadron mates to sign up if they aren’t yet. If you are an NHA squadron representative, feel free to reach out with a current squadron roster to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you find the membership status of your ready room.
Congratulations to our Newest Life Time Members! NHA for Life
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 9 VP of membership Report
Mastering the Machine
By CDR Emily “ABE” Stellpflug, USN
Justdays ago, I was flying a brand-new CMV-22 over the Mojave Desert on a picture-perfect, CAVU day. Our mission: to practice automation features to confined areas or potential reduced-visual landing sites. The Osprey has an impressive autopilot, affectionately known as "George." George can fly an entire route of flight, transition from airplane to VTOL mode, descend, and decelerate to a perfect 20-foot hover over a specified waypoint. While George is a fantastic tool, the key is successfully commanding George and accurately assessing whether it is executing the commands. We had specifically pre-briefed for this flight that if George isn’t doing what we want, we will clear the panel and hand fly. In theory, if operated correctly, all maneuvers should be predictable and benign.
So, there we were. We had input a flight plan out to Rice LZ, set up an initial point prior to Rice that should align us with our intended landing course, and let George take controls. There are a few limitations to the automatic approach feature, including that the aircraft must be less than 800 feet above the waypoint elevation to capture the approach. We started dialing down George’s altitude to ensure we met that criterion. While setting up for the approach, we checked the DAFIF for the waypoint, which specified an elevation of 0 feet. We were gradually stepping down our altitude and dialed in 1200 feet MSL. George had us in a steady descent as my copilot said, “we look low.” A few seconds later, “we look really low.” At 500 feet AGL, we cleared the panel, as briefed, and took over hand flying. Something wasn’t right.
We hand flew the approach, landed uneventfully, and noted that the LZ elevation was actually 900 feet MSL. Once we inserted another waypoint with the proper elevation, George beautifully executed an automatic approach directly to the LZ. The consequences of our relatively simple error could have been much more severe and disorienting during a night-time approach.
This event was a great reminder that being a “Master of the Machine” takes a lot more than just wiggling the sticks. In flight school, we spend much of our time, focus, and energy on being the flying pilot and maintaining basic airwork during a series of maneuvers or flight regimes. However, once we hit the Fleet, we go beyond airwork and require the ability to tactically employ our aircraft. As aircraft become increasingly complex, mastering each capability is more challenging, yet it is imperative to being a professional Naval Aviator.
This issue, “Mastering the Machine,” is aptly named as we ring in 2023 and reflect on 100 years of rotary aviation. The new year also brings us closer to the NHA Symposium at Harrah’s Resort Southern California - 15-19 May! Mark your calendars now, and we’ll see you in May!
V/R ABE, NHA Lifetime Member #481
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 10 National President's Message
Mastering the Machine
By LT Annie "Frizzle" Cutchen, USN
Afew weeks after the theme of Rotor Review #159 “Mastering the Machine” was publicized, I had the pleasure of attending a Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) event for one of their projects focused on redesigning the surface bridge.
TANG is a Navy program resourced through OPNAVN94 and executed through PEO-IWS5. For the week we volunteered as the end users of, in this case, the surface bridge project (resourced from SEA21/PMS443 ‘Bridge Integration and Ship Control Systems Program Office’). This was one of two workshops TANG has hosted in an effort to brainstorm solutions and improvements to the surface bridge. Every TANG project typically includes multiple end user engagement sessions throughout the project to ensure their voice is heard.
Leading up to this week, under the guidance of an incredible group of artists and engineers, my own reflection on “Mastering the Machine” elicited thoughts of how I may become better at working with the technology that exists in my aircraft currently to execute the mission at hand. The folks at TANG forced us all out of our comfort zone that is Microsoft PowerPoint, and had us get creative imagining ideas for now and the future that make the technology work for us, not the other way around.
My good friend, LCDR Eric “Pennies” Page, has always been well ahead of me, as I noticed every single flight and conversation we have had together, and wrote an outstanding article in this issue about just that. Another dear friend, LT Nick “SEGA” Padleckas, authored another outstanding article in this issue about how we may push our creative innovations, wants, and wonders to the appropriate level. Pennies’ and SEGA’s articles will give you, as they did me, an idea of just how simple, yet impactful, solutions can be and how we, the end user, can make them happen.
The TANG workshop also provided an immense insight into how we may approach problem solving through a creative lens using design thinking principles. The facilitators encouraged their groups of ranks ranging from E-4 to O-6 to brainstorm in new and innovative ways. They took rooms full of type-A personalities, accustomed to working within the confines of notetaking and outdated computer programs, and forced us to draw pictures and build prototypes out of 3D printed models and pipe cleaners. Challenging us in this way resulted in innovation and creative thinking that I had yet to see in my eight years of service. After the workshops, the project team takes these ideas from the workshops and moves them through the prototyping phase of their project. Ultimately coming up with a few solutions that meet stakeholder, technologist, and end user needs.
I walked away from a week of workshopping the surface bridge with a newfound knowledge that the skills rotary wing aviation builds in us all do translate to the surface Navy. Additionally, should we all take the time to think outside the box and step out of our comfort zone, we may find we have tangible solutions to issues that we face in our respective platforms. To me, “Mastering the Machine” means being brilliant at the basics so we may build upon those to master any mission we are tasked with. It also means knowing our respective machine well enough to recognize where the deficiencies are and correcting those for the next set of end users. Should you have the opportunity, I highly encourage you to participate in any TANG event, whether or not it is aviation related.
This next issue of Rotor Review (#160) will mirror the theme for the upcoming symposium, “Forging Legacy, Legends Past and Present.” The due date for submissions is 27 March 2023. Happy reading!
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 12 From the Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the Editors
It is always great to hear from our membership! We need your input to ensure that Rotor Review keeps you informed, connected, and entertained. We maintain many open channels to contact the magazine staff for feedback, suggestions, praise, complaints or publishing corrections. Please advise us if you do not wish to have your input published in the magazine. Your anonymity will be respected. Post comments on the NHA Facebook Page or send an email to the Editor-in-Chief. Her email is email@example.com, or to the Managing Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use snail mail too. Rotor Review’s mailing address is: Letters to the Editor, c/o Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578.
RADIO CHECK Tell Us What You Think!
The theme of issue #160 is “Forging Legacy–Legends Past and Present.”
No legends started out that way and most never intended to be legends at all. Some are world renown, while others are only recognized in their own spheres of influence.
Who are those individuals that made our naval rotary wing community what it is today? What qualities make a legend? Have the qualities we value in those we hold at the highest regard changed over the years? Who are our modern-day legends and how do they differ from our legends of the past?
We want to hear from you! Please send your responses to the Rotor Review Editor-in-Chief at the email address listed below.
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen Editor-in-Chief, Rotor Review email@example.com
Articles and news items are welcomed from NHA’s general membership and corporate associates. Articles should be of general interest to the readership and geared toward current Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard affairs, technical advances in the rotary wing / tilt rotor industry or of historical interest. Humorous articles are encouraged.
Rotor Review and Website Submission Guidelines
1. Articles: MS Word documents for text. Do not embed your images within the document. Send as a separate attachment.
2. Photos and Vector Images: Should be as high a resolution as possible and sent as a separate file from the article. Please include a suggested caption that has the following information: date, names, ranks or titles, location and credit the photographer or source of your image.
3. Videos: Must be in a mp4, mov, wmv or avi format.
• With your submission, please include the title and caption of all media, photographer’s name, command and the length of the video.
• Verify the media does not display any classified information.
• Ensure all maneuvers comply with NATOPS procedures.
• All submissions shall be tasteful and in keeping with good order and discipline.
• All submissions should portray the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and individual units in a positive light.
All submissions can be sent via email to your community editor, the Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org), or the Managing Editor (email@example.com). You can also use the USPS mail. Our mailing address is Naval Helicopter Association
Attn: Rotor Review
P.O. Box 180578
Coronado, CA 92178-0578
Naval Helicopter Association Scholarship Fund
The Case for the Roll Vector
By CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.), President NHASF NHA LTM #4/RW#13762
Inlate 1979, I joined HM-12 as an FRS instructor after first attending the Aviation Safety Officer Course at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Monterey. Though better versed in the arts than the sciences, I really hit the books. When complete, I was proud to have earned three hours of undergraduate aerodynamic credits, an Aviation Safety Officer (ASO) Course Certificate, all for running 100 miles in 6 weeks. I was feeling healthy ... and smart! Filled with both academic and athletic fervor, I joined the squadron flag football team with our skipper, CAPT Dreesen, as the team captain and quarterback/coach.
As the squadron’s new ASO, my job included passing on my newfound knowledge of helo aero, and tons of other useful stuff, to the Ready Room. My first lecture was a lesson in dynamic rollover.
Having prepared a ten-minute session, I drew graphs to show how the lift vector rapidly becomes a roll vector if one of your landing gear is chained or otherwise fixed or obstructed (scupper, big rock, hole in the runway) and you pull up on the collective.
Shortly, the blackboard was covered in diagrams and even a little math. Doing my best to capture the full attention of a crowd of FRS instructors, I looked out at my colleagues to find no one paying attention (if only I could cartoon this with thought bubbles above each head...).
Finally, getting to the penultimate graph, the takeoff diagram, I emphasized tail rotor thrust and the roll vector. Then, in a final attempt to make aero exciting, I drew some arrows from the roll vector to the top of the blackboard and said in my best sports announcer voice:
"... Smith breaks out from coverage downfield. The Skipper drops back, rolls right, and pivots, throwing it long...and Smith catches it ...it’s a touchdown, and HM-12 wins the 5th Naval District Championships!"
Everyone looked up, initially startled, and then the ready room erupted in a great HOORAY!
And that is the case for The Roll Vector! Should read: (OBTW: We took third in the 5th Naval District Football Championships [11/1979])
NHA Scholarship Fund - 2023
The case for a scholarship fund donation.
TheNHA Scholarship Fund (NHA SF) Committee manages a modest scholarship fund for the NHA (~$500-$600k). In essence, the NHA SF Committee finds and manages the funding and the procedures to select and award a minimum of fifteen scholarships to eligible active-duty and reserve as well as enlisted personnel, retired members, and their family members. To fund our annual slate of awards, we manage a healthy investment portfolio and encourage individual donations, endowed gifts, corporate sponsors, and legacy and memorial gifts. Our fundraising season covers all twelve months of the year, emphasizing the 4th quarter of the calendar year.
Our strategic plan guides our annual award limits and the awareness effort needed to bring in adequate funding. NHASF's application period runs from 1 September through 31 January. It is guided by our vision: Position NHASF to be a premier scholarship choice in Naval Aviation in 5 years (2025).
We expect to provide a sound, growing fund base to incrementally increase the dollar value of the fifteen annual awards total to reach $75k ($5000 each) in 5 years (2025).
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In February, our selection process begins. Run regionally, our selection process consists of up to six NHA regional teams (San Diego, DC, Jacksonville, Norfolk, Pensacola, and overseas) and one functional group (graduate, active duty, military spouses including Gold Star family members). In February, each region/group receives a slate of applicants to “rack and stack,” then forwards their recommended slate of candidates and alternates to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors approves the slate in April. Announcements are made at the NHA Symposium in May. Once announced, funds are sent directly to the registrar/admission/finance office of the selectee's university or college for tuition purposes. Fundraising and awareness continues through all twelve months.
Throughout the year, we encourage our members to donate generously and to encourage our shipmates and their families to apply.
Thanks for your support.
Aboard USS Midway Museum
The Midway Foundation Pillars of Freedom Awards
On10 November, USS Midway Foundation announced their 2023 Pillars of Freedom Grant Awards for the community, with 17 recipients sharing $627,000. NHASF was awarded $12,000, covering three $4,000 NHA Scholarships for 2023.
Receiving the award for NHA, CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.) said, “The USS Midway Museum continues to be a pillar of our community. Along with being the top attraction in San Diego, they give back generously. This is the fifth consecutive year the Foundation has awarded NHA with a generous grant. We appreciate your generosity and leadership in philanthropy.”
2023 Applications for one of 15 annual NHA Scholarships will be accepted through 24 January 2023; complete applications must be received by NHA Scholarship Office by 31 January 2023. The selection process will commence in February and after Board approval award winners will be announced at the May 2023 Symposium and published in Rotor Review.
Find out more by visiting our website:
Application and prescreening: https://www. nhascholarshipfund.org/
Arne Nelson Captain U. S. Navy (Ret.)
NHA Scholarship Fund President
LTM #4 Rotary Wing Number - 137562
P.O Box 180578 Coronado, California 92178-0578
(619) 435-7139 Office / (619) 607-0800 Cell www.navalhelicopterassn.org www.nhascholarshipfund.org
“Apply and Donate”
USS Midway Foundation President Laura White, and Robin Hatfield present a check to CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.).
Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society
Happenings at NHAHS
By CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.), President, NHAHS LTM#46 / RW#16213
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
Another year is behind us now to put into the books. It has been a good and productive year for NHAHS with a number of things accomplished and to be thankful for:
NHAHS and NHASF had a successful charity golf tournament 10 November right before the Veterans Day Holiday at the Admiral Baker South Golf Course. The weather was great and 125 golfers shared an outstanding round of golf and a nice lunch afterward at the clubhouse. A team of JO’s from HSM-41 Seahawks named “Big Putts” walked away with the big prize which was a silver trophy cup standing 36” tall. HSM-41 will defend their title at the Golf Tournament next year to be held in connection with the 2023 NHA Symposium in May.
Thanks to the efforts of the Midway Museum, HSC-4 Black Knights, and some members of NHAHS, the H-3 Sea King at Flag Circle has been freshened-up and painted and is looking good once again. This year’s Chief Selects also washed all the aircraft at flag circle as a community service project again this year and had some fun while doing it. Thank you to the new Chiefs for keeping our display aircraft looking good!
The Gifting Paperwork for the SH-60F CDR Clyde E. Lassen, USN (Ret.) Medal of Honor Memorial Display Aircraft at the front gate for NAS North Island is at the OPNAV Staff in the DNS Office and hopefully will be endorsed and then forwarded across the hall in the Pentagon to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Installations and the Environment. With any luck we are hoping that by the time this issue of the Rotor Review is published that we will know something positive about the request and that we will be working on contacting Davis Monthan Bone Yard
and making the arrangements for a truck to have the aircraft transported back to San Diego so it can be inducted into the Midway Restoration Hangar 805 on base. We are still collecting money to make this project a reality so if you are interested in helping out, please make a donation. Every little bit helps. Plus with the brick project at the base of the monument, you have an opportunity to have your name or a message left there for everyone to see. The details of how to donate are on page 17.
The Jack Rabbits to Jets history book about NAS North Island is in work and we are hoping to have a solution for publishing the book and making it available to those interested in having a copy soon. There is still work to do proofing and fact checking the book, however, the goal is to have it published sometime in 2023.
We are currently working with Mr. Hank Caruso to create a “helicatures book” (a book of helicopter character drawings) and we are hoping to have a preview available at the 2023 Symposium.
We are also working to fund and produce a movie about HC-7. "Leave No Man Behind - The Untold Story of HC-7." Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC-7) was formed during the Vietnam War and its primary mission was combat search and rescue (CSAR). Their mission was not for the faint
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 16
Sea King at NAS North Island Flag Circle - Looking Good!
of heart. CSAR is often dangerous and requires persistence to get the downed airman out of danger. HC-7’s legacy of rescuing downed pilots, often deep in enemy territory, epitomizes the mantra “Leave No Warrior Behind.” Among the tenacious airmen who flew these often-dangerous missions was Clyde Lassen. He was only one of four naval aviators to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in Vietnam. By the end of the war, HC-7 had rescued nearly 150 personnel and 94 aviators from Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin. HC-7’s stellar performance and the awards given to its members established HC-7’s reputation as “one of the most highly decorated squadrons in Naval Aviation history.” By September of 1967 when HC-7 was established, Vietnam was quickly becoming the “helicopter war.” Helicopters were its defining mode of transport and the image that remains in the minds of most Americans today. These birds brought men into battle and carried them home. We are hoping that the movie will premiere in 2023.
We are also working to identify the Mark Starr Pioneer Award Recipient who will be announced at the 2023 NHA Symposium in May.
We are looking for some assistance to find a home for a Night Vision Device (NVD) Terrain Board that we acquired. This is a 10’ x 10’ display used for NVD/G training and everything works! We have tried to see if USS Midway, the San Diego Air and Space Museum or the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola wanted it, however, neither were interested. While the board does not come with any goggles, we have found that we were able to borrow some goggles from a local squadron to try to find the board a new home. We also have a contact at Raytheon who might be willing to sponsor the display depending on where it ends up. If you or someone that you know might be interested in having the board, please let me know. It might also make a nice train set display too if you know someone into trains.
That is about it for NHAHS for this issue of Rotor Review. If you are interested in our helicopter history, send us a note, check out our website, send us a story, donate some memorabilia, or attend one of our meetings. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-449-1726.
Keep your turns up, Regards,
HC-7 Movie for Television - NHAHS is Still Collecting Donations
Computer Rendition of NASNI Stockdale Entrance with SH-60F on a Pedestal
Mail Checks to: Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society, Inc. (NHAHS) NASNI SH-60F Project PO Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578
To donate with PayPay visit https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/indexphp/donations/ and click on the PayPal icon or copy and paste this link in your browser https://www.paypal.com/donate?token=dUz7iSsDDUkFxuXCIsSpZE5lRrmAZ7M5diK1LRJ315ULqrsnyvU3nuz4WHPu0z4ZBCW7xiw34NubTIs
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PayPal Donation Link
The Next Generation – Embracing Technology to Expand on the Tried and True
By CAPT Jade Lepke, USN Commodore, Training Air Wing Five
Naval Aviation training is rapidly evolving after remaining stagnant for decades, and today’s newest generation of aviators are embracing the change. As our Fleet warfighting platforms continue to evolve, so too are our methods of training. Our newly commissioned Officers and Sailors are arriving to the Fleet having been trained in the tried-and-true basics that have stood the test of time; however, fundamental skills they learn are now being reinforced with realistic hands-on training through technology.
Across the Navy, we have learned that readiness and safety are byproducts of currency and proficiency gained through reps and sets. These reps and sets often elude us when resources are scarce. Lessons learned through mishap investigations in both Naval Aviation and across the Navy draw a direct correlation to old and outdated methods of training to flight crews and bridge watchstanders that deserve more relevant and impactful training than what we’ve provided in the past. Mishaps aboard the USS Fitzgerald (CG 62) and USS McCain (DDG 56) were no surprise to anyone who had visited bridge simulators in Norfolk and San Diego. As a Navigator on the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), it was readily evident to me that something needed to change when I looked to maintain currency and build proficiency for our navigation team. Our team was forced to travel an hour north of NS Norfolk to Ft. Eustis to train in the only carrier bridge simulator that could fully accommodate a bridge team with navigation charts. Yes, that’s right, to an Army base! Training facilities on NS Norfolk were available, but were lacking to say the least. Following the unfortunate collisions, the surface fleet and the entire Navy has looked to state of the art simulators and commercial off-the-shelf technologies to bridge the gap. Our Navy has improved with Mariner Skills Training Centers that have opened in both Norfolk and San Diego and our leadership has invested in technologies that are transforming Naval Education and Training Command
(NETC) Learning Centers, one at a time with Ready Relevant Learning. We are also bringing the training directly to the carrier piers in mobile classrooms that can move from one pier to another.
Naval Aviation leadership has also made the needed investment in our future throughout Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA). Naval Aviation Training Next (NATN) is a concept that is proving that commercially available technologies can be modified to provide high fidelity training to our fledgling aviators throughout their entire training pipeline. Project Avenger is the first NATN Program that incorporates technologies such as virtual reality, mixed reality, and 360-degree immersive videos into a new agile training syllabus focused on a small group or det concept. With help from Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), technologies such as mixed reality have also been able to transform low fidelity or no fidelity simulators from instrument trainers into fully functional simulators with 360-degree views and flight characteristics that arguably match our highest fidelity simulators, at a fraction of the cost. Project Avenger students are also able to practice instrument approaches in virtual reality sims with off duty FAA Air Traffic
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 20 Commodore's Corner
The first two TH-73A Thrasher student naval aviators(SNA) completed their solo flight Nov. 14 in the new training helicopter. Captain Jade Lepke, Commodore, Training Air Wing Five, congratulated the SNAs upon arrival. HT-8 is the first training squadron to employ the TH-73A Thrasher with SNAs. Photo by Julie Ziegenhorn, Naval Air Station Whiting Field
Controllers linked in and controlling multiple students at a time in the same airspace. This is an example of chair flying that could have only been imagined by Gen X. The concept behind NATN is not to replace flight time with simulator time, but to make each minute of training in the aircraft more impactful.
Gulf Coast Fleet Fly In 2022 celebrated the next generation of training at South Whiting Field. With almost 30 of 130 new TH-73 Thrashers on the flight line, the first students have completed their solo flights and are on their way to earning Wings of Gold. Gone are the days of steam gauges and instrument scan patterns that change from platform to platform. Moving from the T-6B to the TH-73 and then onto any of the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard Fleet aircraft will require only a minor modification to scan patterns. CRM is further reinforced in the new training syllabus with navigation and flight control systems in the TH-73 that closely mirror our Fleet aircraft. The fidelity of our new simulators has been described by the FAA as the best they have ever seen. Like Project Avenger, TH-73 students are no longer learning checklists and chair flying in static trainers. Instead, this generation of aviators is being trained in newly arriving mixed reality trainers and our classrooms are being transformed with interactively linked desktop trainers that bring the cockpit into the classroom with hands-on learning. These trainers are expected to be available to students for up to 20 hours a day to increase exposure and allow for reps and sets prior to graded simulator and flight events.
The future of rotary training at Whiting Field will continue to modernize over the next three years and beyond. Training Air Wing (TRAWING) Five will transition all three Helicopter Training squadrons to the TH-73, with Helicopter
Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) currently in the transition and HT-18 and HT-28 beginning the transition in FY24 and FY25 respectively. Additionally, the construction of our new training facility will begin this fiscal year and is expected to be completed in 2025. A new multi-use squadron ops/hangar facility is also expected to begin construction once funding for FY25 is secured. The Advance Helicopter Training System (AHTS) is not just a program to introduce a new training helicopter, but a comprehensive modernization of aircraft, facilities, and training that will sustain us into the future.
As our newly trained aviators begin to arrive at Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) and the Fleet, CNATRA training wings will need continuous feedback from Fleet Commodores, COs, and FRS instructor pilots and aircrew. Additionally, active Fleet participation in CNATRA Production Alignment Conferences and Curriculum Conferences will allow us to further improve training and ensure we focus on the needs of the Fleet. Embracing technology in our training pipelines does not mean we are throwing out the past for the sake of change. Instead, technology is helping our newest aviators keep pace with the systems they will be expected to manage in the Fleet. We need your feedback to ensure our training is hitting the mark and you are getting exactly what you need.
In closing, it is important to credit the efforts of those who have worked tirelessly to bring the entire AHTS program to the execution phase. A special thanks to the efforts of the TW-5 Fleet Introduction Team, both past and present, and also to the members of our team from N98T, PMA-273, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE), CNATRA Fleet Support Team, NAWC-TSD, and our industry partners, many who have worked long hours in uniform and beyond to secure the future of Naval Aviation.
Training Air Wing Five’s first 12 student naval aviators to begin training in the new TH-73A Thrasher helicopter stand in front of one of the aircraft in early September. This training system includes a new syllabus, virtual reality simulators, and the infrastructure to support the aircraft. Photo by LTJG Nelson Chandler, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs.
Individuality in the Uniformed Service: Breaking the Cycle of Hypervigilance
By LCDR Rob “OG” Swain, USN (CVW-5)
Tanoshi kyujitsu (
), Naval Helicopter Association! Carrier Air Wing FIVE and Task Force 70 remain underway to support security operations in the Philippine Sea. On the Ronald Reagan deck plates, you can feel the emotional tides shifting in response to the uncertainty of our homecoming date. Originally scheduled to return to Japan in time for Thanksgiving, I booked non-refundable tickets back to the states for late December to celebrate New Year’s Eve with some of my favorite people in the Naval Helicopter community. Now approaching the second week of December and still underway, I am listening to the murmurs of a second extension crescendo, and considering that “nonrefundable”tickets may have been a mistake.
When your forward operating base can move 600 miles a day without severing the satellite umbilical to higher headquarters tasking, the reality of Navy life is that change is inevitable. Emergent threats demand tactical action, and the speed of relevance requires immediate flexibility. The dynamism of naval operations not only strains unit planners, it risks fatiguing every Sailor. Pilots and Aircrewmen are particularly susceptible to change-related stress. Too often, aviators allow their entire lives and self-worth to orbit around their billet, the flight schedule, or the leadership decisions implemented by their chain of command. In this issue of RFTRS, therefore, we’re going to talk about “Identity.”
The Naval Aviation Enterprise mirrors the structure of tight-knit organizations throughout the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement. Carefully orchestrated periods of indoctrination, standardization, and adversity bind individuals from disparate socioeconomic backgrounds, creeds, and beliefs under a new banner of fraternity and Navy core values. This professional alignment, however, carries certain risks to a lifetime of individually-shaped personal identity. The aviator can begin to exhibit a physiological pattern coined “hypervigilance.”
The experiences, language, and danger inherent in flying naval aircraft prove difficult to emotionally translate to an outside audience. This environment passively invites aviators to cloister from the outside world and choose the path of least resistance toward a life defined, and self-worth dictated, by the squadron, staff, or ship. Slowly but surely, an aviator can dilute their identity from “I am Rob Swain” to “I am a Naval Aviator.” Hypervigilance is revealed when the individual is engaged, focused, social, and high-performing at work, but quietly in the background, balance in their personal lives atrophies. Preoccupation with the job begins to eclipse the hobbies, goals, values, and relationships which fortify service member resilience. If the hypervigilance cycle is not broken, then the support structures which equip a person to continue a life of committed, enthusiastic service erode, replaced by cynicism and disillusionment toward that very service.
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 22 Report from the Rising Sun (RFTRS)
During my first seven years in the Helicopter Sea Combat community, I enjoyed immense job satisfaction. I benefited from leaders who inspired and gave me the latitude to fail and learn from my mistakes without reprisal. I worked with peers who motivated me. I enjoyed diverse flight experiences across the globe and developed an intense loyalty to my squadron. I was also single, rarely socialized with individuals who did not fly the MH-60S, and scorned Department Heads who spent time with their families rather than going to Belmont House of Smoke for karaoke on a Wednesday night. Over time, my sense of self and my professional reputation began to blur into one indistinguishable set of metrics. I was functioning in the hypervigilance cycle, but did not recognize the risk because I was having fun.
My first few months on CVW-5 staff threw all of that out the window. On my first day in the new billet, I rapidly recognized that all of my previous job satisfaction and community rapport had not followed me on the Trans-Pac. With no turnover and minimal carrier experience, I labored to orient myself in this foreign environment. I could sense a heaviness in the cultural atmosphere generated by a strike group trudging into year three of forward-deployed COVID restrictions. For the first time in my career, I experienced overt and covert prejudices against helicopter pilots and took it personally. I was straight-up not having a good time.
Shortly thereafter, I started this column because I love to write. I set a personal goal to enter the 1,000 lb club (which I had very publically failed at on the Aqaba, Jordan pier as a junior officer). I took leave over the holidays to spend time with loved ones and take off the flight suit for a few days. I took pride in flying helicopters, made efforts to increase mutual understanding of platform capabilities, and sought opportunities to integrate helicopters across the strike group and joint force. I started reading books that interested me, some related to the military, some not. I diversified my emotional investments outside of “the job” and found that it produced a source of strength and greater positivity in my work. The consistent positive attitude afforded by a balanced personal life increased trust between me and the organization. This led to reinvigorated job satisfaction and professional commitment. While I initially feared forward deployment had been a professional mistake, my time with CVW-5 came to yield some of the most rewarding moments of my career.
The Navy is an Armed Service. Service requires sacrifice. Sacrifice demands selflessness. The uniquely American strength of our Navy lies in the creativity, personal liberty, and individuality of our Sailors. To give of one’s self in defense of one’s country affords no higher honor. In doing so, however, do not compromise all of the wonderful qualities, interests, ambitions, and relationships which make you, you! Attending to these internal aspects independent of your career will steel you with the resolve to handle any spoolex, extension, ORDMOD, or disappointment without challenging your sense of self. It has been a privilege to share the “Report from the Rising Sun” over the past 18 months, and I look forward to continuing to share this great Navy adventure with you all!
I did not handle the changes gracefully. I felt undervalued. It led to sleeplessness, irritability, and waking anxiousness. I began firing off emails to mentors, friends, and family in an effort to understand why, for the first time in over a decade of military service, my commitment to the Navy was wavering. I tried to google “Harvard Graduate School application,” but the afloat CANES network blocked my search. I battled an internal victimization characteristic of so many service members who allow consistent professional validation and personal identity to merge into one amorphous definition of self-worth. When my work-relationships changed, when the job description changed, when the professional responsibilities, trust, and environment changed, I experienced conflict in my own personal perception.
About two months into that first deployment with CVW5, I received a response from my former Weapons School Pacific Commanding Officer. In a straight-forward message characteristic of his transparent leadership style he wrote, “Don’t be who you think the staff wants you to be, be yourself and everything else will fall into place.” His message resonated with encouragement to break the hypervigilance cycle.
“Don’t be who you think the staff wants you to be, be yourself and everything else will fall into place.”
Torii Gate at the Itsukushima Shrine
Mastering the Machine
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Our Rotor Review editors have teed up a great topic this quarter. It is one that looks ahead, and one that will have the potential to impact our community for years and decades to come. Mastering the Machine is an important issue. Said another way, the future clearly involves both humans and machines.
The DoD’s “Third Offset Strategy” emphasizes manunmanned teaming, the essence of the relationship between machines and humans, as a central concept. Since not everyone is familiar with the term Third Offset Strategy, it bears some explanation.
The Department of Defense initiated a Third Offset Strategy to ensure that the United States retains the military edge against potential adversaries. An “offset strategy” is an approach to military competition that seeks to asymmetrically compensate for a disadvantaged position. Rather than competing head-to-head in an area where a potential adversary may also possess significant strength, an offset strategy seeks to shift the axis of competition, through the introduction of new operational concepts and technologies, toward one in which the United States has a significant and sustainable advantage.
The United States was successful in pursuing two distinct offset strategies during the Cold War. These strategies enabled the U.S. to “offset” the Soviet Union’s numerical advantage in conventional forces without pursuing the enormous investments in forward-deployed forces that would have been required to provide overmatch soldier-for-soldier and tank-for-tank. These offset strategies relied on fundamental innovations in technology, operational approaches, and organizational structure to compensate for a Soviet advantage in time, space, and force size.
In explaining the technological elements of the Third Offset Strategy, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work emphasized the importance of emerging capabilities in unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomy. He pointed out that these technologies offer significant advantages to the Joint Force, enabling the future force to develop and operate advanced joint, collaborative human-machine battle networks that synchronize simultaneous operations in space, air, sea, undersea, ground, and cyber domains. Man-machine teaming is at the core of the technological advances that are part of the Third Offset Strategy.
So what does this mean for our Rotary Wing Community?
Naval Aviation is on a glideslope to be approximately 40% unmanned circa 2035. Some predict this will occur sooner, while others envision the percentage of Naval Aviation that is unmanned will approach 60% by then. It is difficult to pin down a precise number that far into the future.
What is clear is that our community would be well-served to lean into planning how our modern platforms will capitalize on the synergy that comes with man-machine teaming. We have taken modest baby-steps by putting the MH-60S Knighthawk and MQ-8C Fire Scout onboard the Littoral Combat Ship. These two platforms have the potential to be the model for man-machine teaming, but we are not there yet. More on that in future columns. While man-machine teaming sounds easy and straightforward, it is not. What is required is serial innovation.
Since innovation is a term that gets thrown around a lot. I want to share with you how the Joint Staff describes what innovation is and what it means to America’s security:
"Innovation is the life blood of national security and national industrial competitiveness." Although the U.S. Department of Defense has historically played an oversized role in stimulating innovation, over the last several decades, while the U.S. enjoyed superpower dominance after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the edge of innovation has dulled. Simultaneously, over the last 20 years, China has modernized its military and employed aggressive and occasionally coercive behavior against U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific.
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An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter attached to the “Wildcards” of HSC-23 moves aboard USS Montgomery (LCS 8) in preparation for an upcoming exercise. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vance Hand, USN.
View from the Labs
Now, with China as our national “pacing threat,” significant investments are being allocated to innovation in national security, industrial competitiveness, and energy transformation, as articulated in the recent slate of groundbreaking legislation that includes the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as numerous national defense investments and policies. However, with all this investment, the U.S. is at risk of under-innovating, since the innovation industrial base is now accustomed to “low risk” research that is more attuned to enabling professors to publish in their echo-chamber and offers little to support disruptive innovations. Similarly, U.S. National Labs and other Federally Funded Research & Development Centers (FFRDC) have grown accustomed to persistent funding with little risk, and as a result, deliver little disruptive innovation.
Although the U.S. DoD and large successful business enterprises have become risk-intolerant, they still understand the need to be competitive and desire for disruptive innovation. This dichotomy in thinking underscores the dangers of China as the new “pacing threat.” Although the U.S. is compelled to change, decades of inertia make this very difficult. Nevertheless, the need for change is stark—recently punctuated with lessons from Ukraine and how it surprised the world pushing back against Russia. As methods and materials change, what was impossible becomes possible. What’s needed now is a new approach to disruptive innovation.
Lots of good words, but how does this apply to our Rotary Wing Community? While we have been the beneficiaries of continuously updated – as well as new – platforms over the past half-century, you would be hard-pressed to say that any of this was truly innovative. Each advance was basically a newerbetter version of what came before it.
The information above from the Joint Staff noted that in the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have used innovative methods to take on a numerically superior foe. One of the most dramatic innovations is the way that Ukraine has used unmanned air and surface vehicles to attack Russian naval forces.
Both methods – air and surface – are effective. However, as adversary naval forces become more and more attuned to the unmanned threat, they are increasingly finding ways to take out unmanned aerial vehicles. Unmanned surface vehicles, especially small, stealthy USVs, are much harder to detect and destroy.
This has been proven in a large number of Navy and Marine Corps exercises, experiments, and demonstrations where unmanned surface vehicles have been able to make a substantial tactical and operational difference. As described in numerous professional journals, and as demonstrated most recently in International Maritime Exercise 2022 (IMX 22), held under the auspices of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Commander Task Force 59 in the Arabian Gulf,
which focused on the integration of manned and unmanned vessels, USVs are increasingly recognized by the U.S. Navy as invaluable assets in warfare at sea. Two unmanned surface vehicles, the MANTAS (a 12-foot USV) and Devil Ray (a 38foot USV), proved to be the USVs that CTF-59 used most often in these ongoing IMX 22 events, which covered large swaths of 2022.
What does this mean for us in the HSM and HSC Communities? Just this: Attacking adversary ships will always be an important mission for the rotary wing community far in the future. If we think innovatively and truly “out of box,” we should not restrict our notion of manned-machine teaming as only one (manned) air platform operating with another (unmanned) air platform.
Here is an idea that is gaining purchase in several defense circles. Imagine a U.S. surface combatant that discovers an adversary surface ship in a hot-war situation. Clearly, the goal is to “out-stick” the enemy and disable or destroy that ship before the U.S. Navy ship takes a hit. Said another way, standoff distance matters.
How might the U.S. ship most effectively engage the enemy? One standoff tactic would be to send an HSM or HSC helo armed with HELLFIRE missiles to strike the enemy ship. However, with the limited range for the HELLFIRE missile, that puts a $37M MH-60R/S Seahawk/Knighthawk helicopter and its crew well within the range of adversary anti-air systems. While our aviators don’t lack courage, we shouldn’t send them on a suicide mission.
What if, instead, the Navy surface combatant carried a number of MANTAS or Devil Ray USVs armed with oncontact explosives and launched them toward the adversary ship. That would be a good start, but if the adversary ship was over the horizon, these USVs would not get to their intended target.
This is where the Seahawk/Knighthawk comes in. The aircraft could launch, and while staying well-outside enemy anti-air platforms range, use a simple tablet to steer the USVs toward the adversary ship until impact and then let them continue autonomously on the last few tactical miles. This “swarm” tactic has been modeled by various organizations such as the Naval Postgraduate School and Naval War College and has proven to have deadly effectiveness.
This is where many defense experts see manned-machine teaming and “mastering the machine” going in the future. For those of us in the Naval Rotary Wing Community, all we need is to “unleash our innovative selves” and leverage emerging technology to “fly, fight, swim, and win.”
Return to Basics
By LT Daniel “Roadkill” Lloyd, USN (HSM-72)
Theflight line of South Field looked slightly different on November 1st as students and instructors alike arrived to see the usual array of orange and white trainers replaced with various gray aircraft from the Fleet’s operational commands. Rotary wing airframes from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard had flown into NAS Whiting Field for the annual start of the Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In–a weeklong training event designed to bring the vast experiences of the Fleet back to Pensacola to better inform students, currently in the rotary wing pipeline, as well as advertise helicopters to prospective students still awaiting the selection of an aviation community.
The influx of Fleet aviators brings the most up-to-date community details to the students, allowing them to make the best decisions possible regarding platform selection. This is accomplished via static displays and discussion panels, as well as opportunities to ride in and even fly the aircraft from the Fleet.
HSM-40 along with HSM-72, both located in Jacksonville, Florida, represented the Helicopter Maritime Strike Community at this year’s Fly-In. Crews from both squadrons spent a day providing orientation flights to various students in both the primary and advanced pipelines. Students had the opportunity to fly an MH-60R around the pattern at Santa Rosa Outlying Field. This experience also provided invaluable exposure to the MH-60R mission systems. The pilots and Naval Aircrewmen Tactical Helicopter (AWR) discussed the HSM community’s mission in depth in addition to demonstrating a portion of the aircraft’s advanced warfighting capabilities through the use of FLIR and ESM.
HSM-40 provided students with a picture of what their immediate future could be, as the squadron is one of two initial training locations, that students selected to fly the MH-60R will find themselves post-graduation. Conversely, HSM-72 attended having recently returned from a nine month deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Crews were able to answer questions about the Romeo Community as well as share their experiences working with NATO partners
and tracking submarines, all while serving as a vital platform in the modern Carrier Strike Group.
The students are not the only ones who benefit from Fleet Fly-In. The opportunity to bring Fleet aircraft back to flight school brings aviators full circle to where most of their naval careers began. Workups, deployments, and the multitude of other timeshares maintained by Fleet squadrons leave little room for cross countries and time away from the current operational tasking. Afforded the opportunity to take a week and execute flying that significantly differs from the usual workload lets pilots exercise different skill sets. The weeklong event also hosted several opportunities to catch up with old friends, coworkers, and network with various rotary wing agencies.
Come Friday, the flight line of NAS Whiting Field and NAS Pensacola returned to the usual scheme of orange and white as the gray aircraft of the Fleet returned to their various home bases across the United States. Students returned to their studies armed with a better picture of what lies ahead while Fleet aviators returned to their respective squadrons. The U.S. Navy is one of the largest organizations in the world, and Naval Aviation holds one of the largest footprints. Events such as the Fleet Fly-In bring members of the helicopter community back to where they started, allow integration with the new aviators, and continue to build the rich tradition of the Rotary Wing Community.
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Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In - Next Gen
Students get a look at the Romeo that HSM-72 brought to the 2022 Fly-In.
The Fleet Fly-In and NHA Events - a Trustee's POV
By CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.)
The2022 Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In, November 1-3, was a great success. Designed to enhance the Student Naval Aviators' (SNA) understanding of what their professional futures might look like, these events provide valuable 'touch' experience on current Fleet equipment while bringing young Fleet pilots to the Training Command to speak 1:1 with SNAs. Fleet participation was strong, with multiple Navy and Marine Corps aircraft arriving from Jacksonville, New River, and San Diego. SNAs were appropriately and palpably excited to observe large Fleet aircraft with their tactical paint schemes intermingled with their own, comparatively diminutive orange and white training birds on the HT-8 and HT-18 Flight Lines. Reports were that 500 SNAs who participated got to fly in Fleet Aircraft and several hundred more, including Aircrew, participated in the static displays at Sherman Field.
Gathered together at Fly-In - from left to right: CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.), Capt. Josh Kerzie, USMC CAPT Shawn Malone, USN (Ret.), RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.), Maj Jacob Ashbolt, USMC, CAPT Greg Hoffman, USN (Ret.), CDR Guy Henry, USN, and CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.).
The three HT-Squadrons recognize the high value of these exchanges as normal flight schedules gave way to two full days of organized familiarization flights in Fleet aircraft, in-depth briefings, and plenty of productive social interaction. It seems there's nothing more powerful than the sweet aromas of JP-5, hydraulic fluid, and Mil-L-23699 to get the juices flowing. Some of the NHA Staff and a few visitors likewise enjoyed a comprehensive tour of the recently introduced training helicopter, TH-73 'Thrasher.' These contractor-maintained, well-equipped, rigid rotor machines are impressive training birds and a far cry from what some of us flew decades ago.
Social events achieved their intended purpose: enabling all manner of "Fleet speak," discussion of aircraft operational capabilities, and more than a few sea stories. NHA-sponsored BBQ lunches primed the pump both days, and there was a very successful evening social event in downtown Pensacola in which students, instructors, contractors and even a few Trustees had the chance to share a meal and beverages in a relaxed environment.
The Fleet Fly-In culminated with a well-attended community briefing for the students at the always-impressive Naval Aviation Museum at Mainside. It was a time of good news, the "big picture," and positive reinforcement for students who typically spend most of their time head down in the books, moving from hop to hop.
Not to be minimized in this well-organized and informative three day event was Jim Gillcrist's "Why NHA?" pitch to students in which he described the life-long benefit of joining and remaining engaged in the helicopter community's premier professional association. Jim's message boiled down to this: "Given that NHA is the single repository of all Naval Helicopter information, a forum for all issues affecting the whole Naval Helicopter Community -- tactical, technical and, professional -- where you're "in the know," where your opinion matters, where your voice is heard, a place where you can see old friends, make new connections, be a part of something larger than yourself, and much, much more....Why WOULDN"T you join and remain a member of the Naval Helicopter Association?"
This was my first Fleet Fly-In and I learned that Trustees have a valuable role to play at these NHA-sponsored events. Trustee interaction with current instructors, students and their families was particularly robust, candid and interactive with 'experienced' (mostly) former community leaders. I found those conversations to be encouraging and refreshing. NHA benefits from students' early close connection to our community by encouraging membership. For those reasons I'd urge Trustees to attend such scheduled events -- Annual Symposium, Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-Ins, as well as Regional lunches and get togethers, whenever they can. You'll be glad you did!
Mastering the Machine: “Gradually, then Suddenly"
By CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.)
Amongother meanings, “Mastering the Machine,” can be a catch phrase for maximizing and expanding an aircraft’s operational capability, typically through adoption of technological improvements. Sometimes these changes are evolutionary – where the mission essentially stays the same but newer technology, arriving incrementally (and slowly), improves performance. Engineers and budgeteers prefer this orderly manner of upgrading capabilities. But more often new requirements and new missions develop overnight, and change comes suddenly. Welcome to the real world.
Case in point. Other than its outward appearance, today’s MH-60R Seahawk, arguably the finest Maritime Strike helicopter in the world, bears slight resemblance to its predecessor aircraft, the SH-60B. “Bravo” Seahawks (LAMPS Mk III) were manufactured and delivered more than a decade after proof of mission concept. They supplanted the SH-2F (LAMPS Mk I), itself the result of kluged upgrades to distribute airborne ASW and over-the-horizon targeting among small surface combatants – thus countering USSR’s growing blue-water Navy.
Often the Navy’s plodding acquisition system can’t keep up with the real world. For example, the Navy bought and fielded nine new functional ASW squadrons in the last half of the 1980’s only to discover the Fleet requirement for their primary mission capability (ASW) was hardly needed anymore. In 1989 the Soviet Union collapsed, the ASW threat diminished, and these purpose-built open-ocean ASW machines instead began deploying to the littorals and shallows of places like the Arabian Gulf, where minimal ASW threat existed but rather surveillance and targeting were increasingly vital.
To quote Ernest Hemmingway, the SH-60B mission change occurred, “Gradually, then suddenly.”
The first hint of repurposing these newly minted ASW helicopters for littoral missions came in late May 1987. During a scheduled program review at Sikorsky Offices, Fleet representatives from COMNAVAIRPAC received an urgent call from the SH-60B Program Office at the Naval Air Systems Command. NAVAIR informed Fleet attendees that AEGIS Cruisers and FFG 7 Class Frigates were about to be deployed in significant numbers inside the Arabian Gulf (a first) and that, “We need to put an M-60 machine gun on all helos... By the way, the timeline is immediate, and the commitment is open ended...”
Now, it is axiomatic that Rotary Wing aviators use their machines in ways that designers never envisioned, flying missions for which the crews are never trained. NATOPS and Standard Operation Procedures are the guardrails to prevent bold or uninformed pilots from doing stupid things that can get them killed.
But these weren’t to be one-off flights. These deployments meant a whole new mission – a not-so-subtle repurposing of a whole class of uniquely capable and valuable fFleet air assets.
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An HSL-45 aircraft doing the first test of the ALE-39 DECM System, offshore near San Diego in June of 1987.
Recall that Iran and Iraq were at war. Other than the MidEast Flagship, USS LaSalle (AGF 3), U.S. combatants spent little time in the Gulf. But now, Iraq was threatening the movement of oil tankers and the emergent U.S. Navy mission was to forestall any disruption in the flow of oil. Operational necessity put Cruisers and Frigates in a war zone and NAVAIR reasoned M-60 machine guns would provide “protection.”
Fleet Reps knew M-60 machine guns were of limited utility against armed aircraft and useless against anti-air missiles. So, they countered by requesting a forward-firing .50 caliber machine gun and the more useful Defensive Infra-Red (DIR) and Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (DECM) equipment, readily available and installed on some U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawks.
This emergent mission required an immediate addition of new equipment to protect helicopter aircrews who were about to be deployed in harm's way and not under the protective umbrella of Carrier Air Wing assets, by providing the best possible defense against air or surface launched anti-air missiles.
Within one hour of the original phone call, NAVAIR agreed to provide and install the DIR and DECM on the next deployers out of San Diego on the condition that they accept the M-60 too. Deal. The clock was ticking.
In a classic case of the Navy doing everything possible to satisfy urgent Fleet needs, all the new equipment was installed in two factory-delivered SH-60Bs at North Island within 14 days. Within three weeks of NAVAIR’s “GO” order, a two-plane detachment was heading over the horizon towards the Arabian Gulf. New equipment? Check. New Training? Check. New mission? Check.
That one-off experimental aircraft modification kit became known as the “MEF MOD,” and all operational SH-60Bs on both coasts, as well as SH-2Fs ordered into the Gulf received this critical addition.
And that was how the SH-60B began its mission change from open-ocean sub hunter to the combat-ready, littoral, independent air asset that it became. The mission changed suddenly, and the acquisition system ultimately responded gradually, producing further modifications like Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and improved electronic countermeasures (ECM)/electronic counter countermeasures (ECCM).
And the temporary MEF MODs? They morphed into a “hard” requirement to accompany offensive missile capabilities and an advanced ASW suite that became the MH-60R.
Lessons learned? Change happens, suddenly and gradually. Be open to it. Think beyond today’s mission. Your life may depend on it!
An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter attached to the Raptors of HSM-71 fires flares during a training exercise over the Pacific Ocean. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Vazquez.
Human Factors in the Cockpit: It’s All of Our Problem
By LCDR Eric “Pennies” Page, USN
Truth Number 1 states: “Humans are more important than hardware.” In aviation we have adopted this same truth. We believe that changes in hardware directly facilitate the well-being of Naval Aviators and ultimately mission success.
The MH-60S Community is now over two decades old and we have come a long way from the days of Block 1 aircraft. Nearly a dozen mission system upgrades later, we fly a helicopter that has the potential to be the master of multitasking, but at what cost? This article explores some key human factors issues, specifically the placement of the Radio Control Unit (RCU) and the AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasures System (DAIRCM) Control Indicator (CI).
Human Factors is defined by the International Ergonomics Association as “interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design, in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” In the early days of Naval Aviation, two leaders in the field were Fitts & Jones, World War II-era psychologists who conducted interviews and analysis of 460 reports of aviation errors in the cockpit, pioneering the process that current military aviation routinely uses for improvements. They rejected the idea that “accidents due to errors of pilots or supervisory personnel [were] the responsibility of those in charge of selection, training, and operations.” Fitts & Jones instead argued that “a great many accidents result directly from the manner in which equipment is designed and where it is placed in the cockpit.” This paradigm shift to the consideration of Human Factors profoundly impacted our profession, and process improvement remains critical to our safety and success.
Narrowing down this extremely broad science, we are choosing to focus specifically on preventing spatial disorientation in flight to increase safety. Multiple studies from both the Navy Safety Center and the Air Force cite spatial disorientation as a key factor in mishaps that simply has not been eliminated despite advances in airframe technology. “Spatial-D” is taught to all of us in flight school and through mandated annual refresher training, and nearly all Navy pilots can regurgitate the standard jargon; “vestibular system, proprioceptive, visual illusion, black hole effect, etc.,” on command. But what are we actually doing to fix it? I argue there are some improvements to our airframe that could be implemented at minimal cost to increase situational awareness and save lives.
We all need to remember that the following discussion of hardware use demands compatibility in full combat gear, at night using night vision systems, during the most complex missions–all which increase fatigue and decrease situational awareness on their own.
The Radio Control Unit (RCU) was originally designed as a backup control that linked directly to the radios in the event of a computer failure. In recent years, its role has changed. Today the RCU is required to be routinely used in-flight, as the sole controller for Integrated Waveform (IW) Satellite Communications (SATCOM), and for second generation Anti-Jam Tactical UHF Radio for NATO (SATURN) Frequency-Hopping. For the audience who have been out of the cockpit for a while, these two technologies are the upgrades to Demand Assigned Multiple Access (DAMA) SATCOM and HAVE QUICK respectively. Both of these legacy systems are either no longer in use, or will be phased out in the coming years.
Nerd stuff, for sure, but the incorporation of these new technologies means that the RCU will, for a time, be required for non-emergency use in-flight. This is a big deal. SATCOM is used almost exclusively when talking to a command facility, such as a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), because of its beyond line of sight (BLOS) reach. Likewise, we often use frequency hopping on either intra-flight or when talking to external assets to prevent the effects of jamming. Until these functionalities come “under glass,” we must use the RCU to control them.
In a Fleet survey of current pilots who have used the RCU in-flight, 40 out of 41 respondents identified RCU placement (in the center console aft of both pilots) as an ergonomics issue, with 40% claiming it was a safety of flight issue. Similarly, HSC-85, Detachment 2 conducted a survey of all detachment
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HSC-85 conducts training operations in Kadena, Japan.
pilots, where 100% of pilots reported difficulty with RCU use on-ground prior to engine start, on-ground with rotors engaged, and in-flight. Additionally, the RCU placement contributed to increased fatigue, extended mission interruption, and decreased situational awareness as reported by all.
As a case study, picture a section of helicopters holding at a point while working with a ground asset and relaying reports to a Tactical Operations Center (TOC). In flight, likely in an orbit at night, the non-flying pilot will have to physically turn around to re-tune the RCU, switching between a SATURN intra-flight frequency and an IW SATCOM control net (with the other radio remaining on an Air Direction net to monitor the ground party).
Besides being inconvenient to turn and look backwards and down, the pilot must control a panel that is now upside-down from their perspective. Additionally, the act of looking down and aft while the aircraft is in turning flight is a textbook way to induce vertigo from the Coriolis Effect. In one routine action, one pilot (typically the Aircraft Commander, in this instance) just induced spatial disorientation because of a design issue.
The fix is simple. Move the RCU forward on the center console. This solution has already been fit-tested on Fleet aircraft (see Figure 1), and it was found that the internal cable length was not an issue. White papers have been generated and are working their way through PMA-299 and test community chop-chains.
A similar problem occurs with the placement of the DAIRCM CI. This indicator screen (about the size of a half-dollar) is placed on the center console, down and left of the right-seat pilot, who is typically flying. It is now the primary indicator of non-radar surface-to-air fires, and also nearly impossible to see from the left seat. In a Surface to Air Countertactics (SACT) scenario, imagine a pilot, who is aggressively maneuvering an aircraft to stay alive, having to look down and left to see an indication. This is another vertigo-inducing movement, this time from the pilot at the controls. This fix is more extensive, but moving the CI up onto the glare-shield with the IP-1150 (what everyone calls the APR-39 Threat Warning Indicator) potentially saves the aircraft and crew.
What Do We Do About It?
The examples above are only a selection of several human factors issues with our current cockpit setup. It’s easy to be angry and point the finger at PMA-299 or the test community for these problems. There is an entire Military Specification Guide (MIL-STD-1472) that details requirements for cockpit design, which describes criteria like viewing angle requirements for emergency systems, that neither the RCU or DAIRCM CI comply with. From the MIL-STD-1472 “Emergency displays and controls shall be located where they can be seen and reached without delay. For example, warning lights should be within a 30-degree cone about the user’s normal line of sight (the median direction of gaze when viewing a display surface).” This is depicted in Figure #2.
HSC-85 conducts training operations in El Centro, CA.
Additionally, from the same standard, “Controls shall be located so that the user’s hand or arm does not obscure the associated display.” I assert that both the RCU and DAIRCM are emergency systems, as the RCU was initially designed for use in a dualcomputer failure and DAIRCM is for use in SACT.
We have all flown in Sierra cockpits that have had different center console configurations. Through the dedicated efforts of a few Commanding Officers, we have largely standardized cockpits throughout all commands. This problem is complicated by the multitude of different available configurations of the Sierra. While almost everyone is flying a Block 3b, Fixed Forward Firing Weapons Systems (FFFWS) and Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) panels pose additional challenges to maintaining a standard cockpit configuration. This is a problem in and of itself.
However, before the blame is summarily cast on the royal “they,” we as operators must ask ourselves “what are we doing about it?” These, and other human factors issues that are present in the cockpit have been around since the beginning, and we need to be more vocal about them. Not every possible fix is feasible, but our community leaders and NAVAIR need better actionable information. We all must formally report things that are degrading our ability to safely fly and present a possible solution to every problem we encounter. Wardrooms are a great venue to identify issues, but if the conversation stops there, nothing gets fixed.
We can’t wait for a program management office or the VX/HX Community to identify issues and then solve them for us. With the increased use of the new systems on our helicopter, it is incumbent on us to provide feedback and fix problems that potentially result in the loss of helicopters and crew. Change is not difficult, but it is a process that takes work. The first step in successful change is producing and delivering the data to those who can fix it. The Weapons Schools, Naval Air Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), Wings, and individual squadron leadership are great starting points of contact.
Let us safeguard the processes born in the earliest days of aviation and remember that the human is more important than the hardware. Doing so allows us to better contribute to the well-being of Naval Aviators in a future of more complex systems.
Fly Safe! -Pennies
About the Author
LCDR Eric “Pennies” Page is a WTI and Flight Lead at HSC-85. He is earning his M.S. in Human Factors from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Shorrock, S. (2018). Human Factors and Ergonomics: Looking Back to Look Forward. Understanding and Improving Human Work. https://humanisticsystems.com/2018/02/25/human-factors-and-ergonomics-looking-back-to-look-forward/ Stott, J. R. R. (2013). Orientation and disorientation in aviation. Extreme Physiology & Medicine, 2(1), 2–2. https://doi. org/10.1186/2046-7648-2-2
Ledegang, W. D., & Groen, E. L. (2018). Spatial Disorientation Influences on Pilots’ Visual Scanning and Flight Performance. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, 89(10), 873–882. https://doi.org/10.3357/AMHP.5109.2018
Gresty, M. A., Golding, J. F., Le, H., & Nightingale, K. (2008). Cognitive Impairment by Spatial Disorientation. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 79(2), 105–111. https://doi.org/10.3357/ASEM.2143.2008
MIL-STD-1472H, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DESIGN CRITERIA STANDARD: HUMAN ENGINEERING (15SEP-2020) http://assist.dla.mil/" http://assist.dla.mil/
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HSC-85 conducts training operations in Republic of Korea.
Advanced Data Transfer System (ADTS) and Moving Map Capabilities in the Personnel Recovery (PR) Environment
By LT Joe “WORM” Rodgers, USN
For years now (maybe even decades), members of the HSC Community have been anxiously awaiting the rollout and employment of ADTS and moving maps in the MH60S. As this long-awaited technology slowly but surely creeps its way into the Fleet, tips and tricks outside of the published manuals and TTPs are bound to make their way through the ranks, whether by word of mouth or written documentation. As someone who was lucky enough to use this system for the majority of my Fleet tour, I would like to share a few very simple but useful techniques that are helpful in the overland tactical training environment. None of this is likely to be ground-breaking information, but for those who have minimal or no experience with the system, it may shed light on a few new digitalized capabilities.
The first, and most obvious, upgrade is the ability to upload various charts to the aircraft’s mission display. Instead of just a black screen with local points, user waypoints, and routes scattered on it, these features will be overlaid on a backdrop of whichever chart you’ve uploaded. This will often be a JOGAIR or a TLM, but can be as detailed as five or one meter imagery, or even GEOTIFF images that show detailed photography of an HLZ or unfamiliar airport diagram.
While useful in the standard VFR realm, one could argue that it pales in comparison to a tablet with a proficient ForeFlight user behind the wheel. Where this is a real game changer is the terrain flight (TERF) environment, particularly when aircrews are less familiar with the route or area. Of course, the necessity of an in-depth chart study and the requirement to print and annotate paper charts cannot be overstated. However, a moving map display with topographical imagery and one’s aircraft position superimposed along a route can immeasurably increase situational awareness in a heartbeat.
Continuing more specifically into the PR mission set, the bullseye plotting function is another very simple but useful tool that allows a user to do exactly what it sounds like–plot a bullseye on one’s mission display. Although it is useful to have a visual depiction of the bullseye on the screen, the real functionality comes when plotting information passed in realtime. After jotting down information and grids of various threats in the cockpit, one can easily transfer this information to the mission display where it is overlaid on the moving map display described earlier. Again, it is still valuable to have a printed bull plot on one’s placemat or prayer book, especially for the situational awareness of the crew members in the back.
This function is further enhanced with the use of the inaircraft intervisibility (IV) tool, made possible due to the integration of elevation data in the software. Any good mission planner knows the IV tool that is accessible in Joint
Mission Planning System (JMPS). While this has its clear benefits, the shortcoming of this tool is that it can only be effectively employed with threats whose presence and location are known before takeoff. To assume threats will https:// www.msn.com/en-us/feed not change or relocate between an initial intelligence brief and mission launch is at the least optimistic, and probably somewhat shortsighted. The IV tool in a moving map-equipped aircraft allows one to input threat characteristics and capabilities, hook select the threat, and turn on a visual depiction of where an aircraft is visible or masked from said threat. Needless to say, a proficient working knowledge of ranges and capabilities of threats in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) is a requirement for this to be used effectively for pop-up threats.
Lastly, this IV tool can be turned around and applied to our friendly forces using the same principles, specifically to establish line of sight communications with a survivor. During mission planning for a PR event, one can hope to have one or several options for points along the route prior to the landing zone. These are based on a myriad of factors, to include terrain, Solar Lunar Almanac Program (SLAP) data, aural signature, threats, and the survivor’s last known location. The capability of line of sight communications can be predicted reasonably well, but is subject to change on the fly as a result of threat movement, the survivor’s movement, or a simulation of either by a SWTI trying to throw a wrench in your plan. In the event of a more immediate or strip-alert style PR mission, several of these factors may not even be known to a sufficient degree of accuracy. Pop-up threats can be plotted after the lowdown with the above-described procedure. When the survivor’s location is passed to the rescue asset, the IV tool can also be utilized here. While plotting the given grid as a manual hostile contact with an appropriate name (i.e. SURVIVOR), any good PQM or aircrewman can bust out the SAR TACAID and read off the predicted line of sight range at a given altitude. Hook selecting the new manual contact, the IV tool can be activated to give you an idea of your communications range. This provides several pieces of information: Will your Initial Point need to be adjusted? Are you not hearing from the survivor because they’re separated from their radio, or because you aren’t within line of sight range? In either case, an on-the-spot adjustment can be made with greater ease and accuracy.
The above described techniques are all simple, and have probably been figured out, used, and possibly even improved upon by many who are practiced in the use of an ADTS/ moving map equipped aircraft. For new users, I hope this has given you a head start on a few of the capabilities of this newer system, and a stepping stone to make improvements and develop techniques of your own to pass to the rest of the Community.
Turning Shadow to Light: Empowering Grassroots Navy Software Development
By LCDR Cory Poudrier, USN
Throughoutthe Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE), aviation units use the Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) to push platform data to their aircraft. This system allows operators to mission plan with dissimilar units, access shared network resources, and do much of their tactical decision making ahead of launch times. Because this system is shared by so many entities, it has attempted to take a one-sizefits-all approach. The backdrop of the software is common, but each type/model/series (T/M/S) aircraft has their own platform specific version of JMPS that includes the intricacies of each. For example, the MH-60S and the MH-60R share a lot of planning interface software, but the MH-60R has unique tabs for electronic warfare and anti-submarine warfare mission sets. Currently, the assets and structure of this program, to include a lot of network storage, is administered and managed at the local level by a single trained user. This being a Navy program, turnover occurs every 6-12 months. Consequently, the lessons identified and learned by the off going JMPS Officer are forgotten or misunderstood, the tools they develop to make their jobs easier break, and the program falls in and out of fashion as tech savvy lieutenants come and go. This program, specifically in HSM, has seen a great deal of innovation from a personal investment standpoint, encompassing batch files that automatically map share drives and user folders, startup functions that maintain a clean system, or even well-developed programs like Launchpad, designed to make the JMPS Officer’s job and collaborative mission planning easier. Sadly, all these solutions exist only at the squadron level, and unless shared or stolen by interested JMPS oOfficers, often sit in obscurity after those individuals
leave. These programs and tools are examples of “Shadow Information Technology (IT),” programs created by users that are not controlled or authorized by the IT Department.
As the Department of Defense pivots to focus on the Great Power Competition (GPC) mindset, we have focused an incredible amount of effort on reevaluating the way we operate in a multitude of battlespaces. The nature of this competition is defined by the ability to adapt and reattack at speed, on all fronts, from the seabed to space. The idea of outpacing enemy adaptation is not new. John Boyd’s Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop dates back to the Korean War. This concept, especially within the Naval Aviation Enterprise, is pivotal in the digital battlespace. The impact of cyber effects and wins and losses within that space will ripple out into all other aspects of the fight. Should the U.S. Navy fail to understand and adapt to modernized software development strategy, they could very well lose the fight before it has begun. There is a need for the Navy to be able to adapt and support small scale change at the fighting edge, a current weakness defined by their lack of control in Shadow IT. The innovative spirit of Sailors is unquenchable, and their desire to continuously improve the systems that they work with will either generate an incredible attack surface for cyber threat, or empower a shift in dynamic that will give the NAE a competitive edge in this new era of warfare.
Cyber warfare is by its very nature agile. Changes in attack vectors and surfaces occur at the speed of updates, and redundant and integrated systems are designed to reduce
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the ability of bad actors to infiltrate and impact critical components. While new systems are, in accordance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-53, addressed for their security controls, old IT systems or unauthorized development are difficult to backdate to current standards. Considering the age of the NAE’s platforms and associated support systems, this problem set is massive. The Navy operates over 3,800 aircraft of various types, models, and series, and each has a unique capability and sensor set that feeds the Naval Aviation mission. With those unique capabilities come unique risks: an airborne radar poses different software concerns than a jammer, and a drone presents different issues than a manned platform. The need from operators for rapid change, and the rapid tools developed by those operators are essential to cover capability and risk gaps that could take years to resolve through traditional acquisition models. These solutions are often referred to as Shadow IT. Shadow IT is defined by its gray area nature. Developers of various skills use code from varying sources to build tools that address hyper-local needs. Some examples of this are python scripts to scrape spreadsheets, mission planning programs that map drive locations consistently, or even applications that poll Navy websites for information. These tools are no doubt useful, and this problem is not exclusive to the DOD. Because these programs are built on such a small scale, users are exploiting gaps in policy or security infrastructure to use them. It is not uncommon to see a tool built on a home computer pulled into the DOD infrastructure because it can be executed, but not built within the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI).
Rather than go on a flaming sword crusade to burn all this innovation from our systems in the name of security, the DOD should seek to encourage, screen, and secure these applications. This is not a simple task. The sheer volume of individual systems that the Navy alone employs is enormous. There are maintenance systems, and systems adjacent to that system that feed into the larger infrastructure. There are mission planning systems that share a common user interface but exist in both unclassified and classified formats, often shared amongst multiple type/model/series (T/M/S) of aircraft. There are nearly countless varieties of personnel support systems (NSIPS, FLTMPS, BUPERS Online, to name a few), each with unique password requirements and authentication methods. While each of these appear separate, they all meet at one common point: the operator. Operators will continue to seek solutions that align and increase the efficiency of this web of systems, and they should be encouraged to do so. They should be provided the training, tools, and infrastructure that support doing it correctly with an eye towards innovation and security, and they should be rewarded for this innovation by allowing them to build on this culture of change.
The Defense Innovation Board (DIB) Software Acquisition and Practices (SWAP) Report specifically calls out two lines of effort that can be leveraged to take advantage of Shadow IT. These are creating and maintaining cross-program/crossservice digital infrastructure and creating new paths for digital
talent. The DIB SWAP Report focuses on the DOD, creating the framework for digital infrastructure at the leading edge (the operational level) of the cyber battlespace, allowing small, incremental changes to be appropriately developed and simultaneously identifies digital talent. I would propose that the infrastructure and talent management models combined take a hub and spoke approach.
In the case of the infrastructure, the hubs would be maintained by type wings. I’ll highlight changes with the Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Community as an example. HSM Wing Pacific, as an example, controls 11 squadrons in 3 geographic locations that deploy from carriers, destroyers, cruisers, littoral combat ships, and amphibious landing ships. Each of those squadrons operate in a unique environment, and interact with countless naval systems along the way. Users are developing tools for those purposes at each squadron, but often in silos, and often on local machines with low processing power and no security backdrop. Rather than continue this approach, HSM Wing Pacific would serve as a software playground surrounding a factory, providing free to use (to the operator) tools and databases on both NIPR and SIPR to develop new programs and tools. These tools would include containerized development environments, analytical tools, and cloud-based computing assets, hosted at the wing level, that will signal boost any minor developments that individual users can achieve. Platform One serves as a great example of what is desired–cloud based development apps, anchored in DevSecOps structure, and CAC enabled to control access. Because this service is cloud based, hosts for software factories can screen code for vulnerabilities and maintain a repository of source code for future development. The drawback to Platform One is cost. Commands need to justify their need statement through heavy paperwork drills that most operators don’t have the time or knowledge to undertake. Friction of this nature will only encourage operators to continue in the shadow realm. Going back to the JMPS example: there has been, for a number of years, an opportunity to bring JMPS onto NMCI networks to support collaborative mission planning. Most JMPS Officers view this as not ideal. The broad scope that JMPS Officers have to build useful tools and administratively control their system suffers. So rather than move systems over to big Navy networks, it is easier and desired to keep JMPS offline. Development under this model needs to be easy and rewarding to encourage its use. Additionally, good products developed in the cloud can be rapidly deployed to other units within that type wing, through internet or regular mission planning system updates, amplifying the effects of smallscale development. The spokes then become the individuals writing code. Amateur, and sometimes professional, analysts and developers would be able to reach to the wing hosted hubs for mentorship, quality assurance, and source code that may speed their time to field, similar in a lot of ways to the tactical development model employed by Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center. As these spokes become more numerous, the hubs will need higher level support to
screen their applications, and this higher spoke can then reside with the TYCOM at Naval Air Forces, sharing tools, code, and knowledge in much the same way as the type wings.
Talent management in this model would be managed external to traditional methods and will likely require creative billeting and changes to the current personnel model. Some innovators are prolific, while some are one trick ponies. The staff would need to evaluate and screen the software it sees from individuals that stand out, preferably based on rate of development and quality of work, to staff wing level positions. These wing level positions could then be evaluated among their peers to feed the TYCOM positions that will continue to build this infrastructure from the outside in, building contracts with DOD-wide assets to continue to share code and define the process by which low-effort software is developed and used. Initially, these billets would be filled with already existing wing staff 1310 lieutenant positions, possibly one at a time. Those lieutenants, now charged with identifying talent, can absorb temporary duty personnel of interest to expand the wing work capacity. With these talented individuals, it is important to define their skillset. A data analyst is a very different creature than a programmer, and the Navy should adopt Navy Enlisted Classification and Additional Qualification Designation definitions that keep Sailors within their talent pool. This will then inform greater resolution within the structure, pooling talent where it is needed most and allowing for a talent marketplace with more billet maneuverability. By standardizing these NEC and AQD definitions, the Navy can send these individuals through higher level schooling to boost their skillset and value to the organization. Once these individuals have proven themselves to be good managers of digital talent, they are then pulled into acquisitions billets to tailor acquisitions policy to feed this system, writing policy in a manner that encourages this model throughout all services.
Finally, as this talent and infrastructure begins to take shape, the NAE can use this model to enact DevSecOps methodology for wider release. In this case, software is developed at a squadron on wing tools, on the wing cloud, ensuring that approved tools and containers are used to design and test these solutions. Once tested, the wing software factory can put code through additional screening to ensure that it meets DOD wide requirements, to verify that use will not harm the greater software ecosystem, and then deploy particularly useful software to users via cloud or asynchronous updates.
By encouraging this open environment for development, security can also be screened at the squadron end on receipt by interested users, providing bug reporting and vulnerability testing through a GitHub open-source model. Finally, this code is retained and updated at the wing level for updates to systems, allowing wing hubs in coordination with
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LT Karl Kobberstand from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM-37), flies a virtual MH-60 helicopter as Naval Aircrewman (Tactical Helicopter) 3rd Class David Finley defends against virtual enemy combatants during an Office of Naval Research (ONR) demonstration of new and improved training which combines software and gaming technology to help naval forces develop strategies for diverse missions and operations. U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams.
A DevSecOps Methodology Chart
program offices to rapidly identify upcoming changes to fielded systems that may impact these tools. They can then inform users of these changes to encourage operational level problem solving motivated by the impending loss of a useful tool. Part of this process described above can be absorbed by the already existing Black Pearl family of continuous authority to operate tools already in place on Platform One.
By decoupling low level software development from major acquisitions efforts, improvements can be made that are more specific to the operational environment. In much the same way that operational test serves to validate systems, relying on a hub and spoke software factory, further down the line of accounting, identifies risk and requirements that would likely go unnoticed at upper echelons. It also enables the most critical factor, speed. Normal waterfall software development, and changes to that product once production has begun, are not known for rapid integration and deployment. The primary concern with any software development strategy in the Government Purchase Card construct needs to be the speed at which it can take effect. Failure to address issues at the point of impact, be they programming bugs or unintended impacts, will cripple the affected unit until a solution is found, developed, and integrated. Type wings are uniquely situated to assess these problems and push out solutions to the places where they matter the most. The tight command relationship between a wing and squadron necessitates
near constant communication, Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) strategies stress the importance of constant feedback to ensure products are meeting the needs of customers. They are also uniquely placed to identify larger patterns of problems within this model. They sit higher than the operational environment and can view the wider scope of problems thus informing tool development that meets a wider need when it is appropriate while controlling for the risks that can arise from nonstandard or poorly written tools. Additionally, the efforts of standardizing tool sets allows wing software factories to distribute code to other T/M/S to aid in solving problems collaboratively. By enforcing DODI standards, these tools can easily be adapted to entities outside of the NAE. It isn’t difficult to imagine that a destroyer or submarine squadron could fill this same need for the ships and submarines under their purview, feeding their chains of command data in a wide web of user driven, Navy screened software development.
Even if the Navy decides to choose a traditional, top-down route to address the issue of Shadow IT, they will inevitably face the fact that the innovative spirit of Sailors will not be quelled. The U.S Navy’s abilities in the next conflict will be defined by how we spend that capital.
“It’s Not the Plane, It’s the Pilot, Mav”
By LT Nick "SEGA" Padleckas
“It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot, Mav.” Rooster,
Itwas a bright and sunny day, not a cloud in the June Nevada sky. We had just begun the first Air Wing Fallon I would participate in during my sea tour, and my singlepoint qualification sheet was as fresh as Alden “CaSPR” Marton’s mustache on November 1st. I was on for a dualship introductory daytime terrain (TERF) flight and combat search and rescue (CSAR) grade card, and had gone through the Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) ringer to perfect the route to the ever-dusty terminal area. As we flowed through the Fallon ranges, I was instructed to adjust our route to Silver Springs Airfield (KSPZ), well west of my carefully constructed flight plan, and to incorporate the standard range wire crossing points into the route adjustment. I saw a spark jump past my ear cup and ignite the helmet inferno that consumed all of my efforts over the next 10 minutes in the lead navigating aircraft. I remember struggling, grasping at every straw, pressing every button I could find that had something to do with navigating. I even pressed the “DIR” button a few times, thinking that it would allow me to proceed direct to KSPZ like every other aircraft I had flown, but all that did was drop a few stupid asterisks on the mission display. Finally, after I beat my visor against the display a few times to see if that would work, the Tactical Navigator set the arrow straight to our surprise intermediate stop. I was embarrassed, defeated, and crestfallen. How could it have been so tough to add a simple waypoint to a route? What did that say about me as a pilot? Well, my instructor had a few debrief points on that…
Since the beginning of flight school through all of my first sea tour, I had been conditioned to think, “this is hard, therefore I need to: study harder, know the system better, conduct more thorough preflight planning, make the brief longer and use one of the 15 “technique only” techniques shown me by the last 16 instructors.” While all of these are true to varying degrees, there is a catch-all phrase for these actions – compensation strategy. Learning these compensation strategies are critical to establishing airmanship baselines for student pilots in flight school, and the staples of “study harder” and “know the aircraft better” should be central in focus, if not a lifestyle. But after flying a 1982 A-36 Bonanza to Placerville, CA for a ski trip and only needing to press a “D→” hard key, tap KPVF, and press “enter” on the GTN-750 ($13,789), I was baffled why the route planning was so difficult on our MH-60 flight management software (tack more than a couple zeroes on). I was baffled why it was as much art in the aircraft as pre-flight planning to guarantee hitting a time on target for a direct-action mission, or why adjusting the infil route for a pop-up threat was always the most difficult part of a CSAR scenario, and not reacting to contingencies in the terminal area.
HSC-6 conducting daytime terrain flight (TERF) operations.
It sadly took a year at the U.S Naval Test Pilot School, receiving instruction from some of the most brilliant and experienced instructors in helicopter aviation to break me out of the “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot” mentality. Through rigorous study, flights that made me question if I had ever flown a helicopter before, dozens of reports that made me question if I knew anything about the English language, and bouts of reflection, I realized this critical flaw in my thinking. Applying these hard-learned lessons to my experience that fateful day, I determined that the reason I struggled with adjusting the route or changing the flight plan in the MH-60 was because it is hard to do! This observation is not a mid-debrief defensive gripe however, and I have had the extraordinary opportunity to test and collect data to back this statement up. During flight test, several Test Pilot School graduates with thousands of collective MH-60 hours studied the route planning system in support of certifying an upgrade. We collected pilot workload ratings, quantified buttons pressed, and measured mission task durations to reinforce the qualitative observation that “flight plan route adjustment is hard.”
In our effort to Master the Machine, we need to take note of when we find ourselves beating our helmet against the headrest during our missions. I present this vignette as an example of why struggling or needing several different “techniques, only” to complete a task in the aircraft may be a sign of a deeper deficiency than a junior pilot’s helmet fire. As a brand new LTJG at my first Air Wing exercise, I was certainly still learning the mission and the aircraft and had hundreds of firehose lessons from incredible instructors to take in, but reliving the same struggles as a member of the MH-60 Developmental Test Team proved that something is amiss under the hood.
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While it took a year of specialized training to break Rooster’s paradigm in my thick head, we all have the opportunity now to document these struggles and relay them to our system developers to improve our mission effectiveness. We don’t need to accept compensation strategies as our doctrine. In this new age of GTN-650 trained MH-60 JOs, the flight plan deficiencies are just a glaring and obvious issue to which everyone can relate. However, these same hurdles exist all throughout the aircraft or mission software, and they will surface as our mission changes to counter our adversaries. With our platform in the sustainment phase of the system development lifecycle, this process cannot start at NAS Patuxent River or in Owego, New York. It needs to originate from our brothers and sisters flying in the fleet. We will do everything we can in flight test to document and resolve deficiencies, but principle power and funding lies in fleet users writing “Software Trouble Reports (STR)” for issues that they observe. Processes that degrade mission effectiveness, or require unsuitable compensation strategies are prime candidates for these STRs. Only the Fleet can write these reports, and they contain the power to direct systems change.
Generally speaking, these STRs are managed by our respective aircraft program offices. For the MH-60, STRs are managed by PMA-299. An STR documents a detrimental software problem for mission readiness related to flight safety, survivability, availability, and effectiveness. The report is
comprised of a title, description, and mission impact. The title is a clear, one sentence description of the problem. A description is comprised of the conditions during which the problem was discovered, the configuration of the aircraft at the time of discovery, and the desired behavior of how the software should have functioned. The mission impact summarizes the degradation imposed by the observed deficiency in terms of either how the deficiency actually did impact the mission or how it will in future tense. STRs are reviewed and prioritized annually through the Software Naval Aviation Requirements Group (SNARG). Though the STR process may change between platforms, the best community points of contact will be squadron Super JOs, Weapons School Staff Officers, and previous Operational and Developmental Test Pilots. Each PMA will have a point of contact (POC) that manages these reports, and the community POCs will be able to assist and facilitate their development and submission.
Despite what Topgun: Maverick purveys, our means of “Mastering the Machine” cannot be rooted in extreme compensation. The plane does not make the pilot, but when the plane and pilot are not at odds with each other, mission success ensues. Identifying when the plane is making the mission difficult is the first step, and there is no one better to recognize it than our frontline operational JOs.
Air Test Evaluation Squadron 21 conducting safe stores jettison and separation testing in the Atlantic Test Range Complex.
Foundation for the Future, Today
By LT Zach “PuK” Pennington, USN HT-8 Instructor Pilot
Advancedcapabilities are built on advanced foundations. For nearly 55 years, those foundations for naval rotary wing aviation have been formed in the cockpits of Bell TH-57 helicopters. Through all the advancements seen in naval aviation during that time, the training in the Jet Ranger has laid the groundwork for thousands of aviators who have gone on to fly Fleet aircraft in the defense of the U.S. and other allied nations. Change is inevitable, however, and as the world moves deeper into the future, the need to replace these aging platforms has become self-evident in order to continue producing the highest quality war-fighters possible. While the TH-57 has been an incredible workhorse, the time has come to bridge the gap between flight school and the Fleet in how we train students to fly, as well as how they interact with advanced avionics and automatic flight control systems. We need to train in platforms that are more comparable to what they will see once they start flying Fleet aircraft.
On the topic of flight characteristics, the TH-73 Thrasher feels much like the H-1’s and H-60’s many students will see when they leave Whiting Field. This is largely due to the power available, inherent nose-high attitude, fully articulated rotor system, and glass cockpit. In the pattern, the Thrasher feels like a “baby H-1,” according to several Marines instructor pilots who have flown it. For an H-60 driver, it feels like a mix between the TH-57 and a Hawk. While autorotating, this aircraft will teach students better Nr control since its lowinertia rotor system is quick to build and decay Nr–a skillset that will be essential to master their follow-on aircraft. The TH-73 autorotation training will build on what has been taught for years in the TH-57 and turn it into something even more applicable to what students will see at the FRS regarding autorotative properties.
As for the power and range of this aircraft, the world just got a little bit bigger for cross-country and instrument training. Having two hours and forty-five minutes of fuel, coupled with a cruising speed of 120-130 knots, opens the possibility for crews to stretch their legs beyond the usual airfields seen in the local Pensacola TRACON area. This will have several positive effects for both the crews and airspace. For one, having more airfields within reach will result in an
overall reduction of aircraft training in the local area. This will also lead to flexibility for crews in the event of bad weather or timeline shifts by opening more alternate airfield options. On cross countries, the extended range will allow for crews to explore areas that were previously out of reach, thus giving them more options. Adding to the list of airfields attainable for cross countries will give the public the opportunity to witness naval aviation first-hand and interact with crews serving as good ambassadors for the aviation community.
Aside from how the aircraft physically flies, the biggest differences between the Jet Ranger and Thrasher can be seen in how the pilot interfaces with the platform. Moving from a legacy “steam gauge” instrument panel to the glass cockpit found in the TH-73 is a giant leap forward. Students will now have better scan continuity from Primary to Advanced Rotary flight training, which mirrors the majority of the Fleet aircraft. More precise instrumentation leads to more precise basic air work and a well-trained scan allows for higher task-loading in the cockpit. This leads to better air work and higher levels of situational awareness, which allows instructors to start teaching students how to leverage their avionics to benefit them in whatever mission they are performing, much like they will do in the future when they are managing tasks far more complicated than shooting an instrument approach.
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Not only is the avionics suite a massive leap forward, so is the automatic flight control system (AFCS). The flight director found in the TH-73 is more like what you would expect to find in a commercial airliner than a military trainer. When used correctly, the aircraft can quite literally fly your flight plan and approach with minimal input from the pilot. While these capabilities are mostly to expose the students to flight director functions, the fact remains that this aircraft is very capable in the IFR environment. The more advanced AFCS and flight director systems allow new training that focuses on the human to system interface and the required crew resource management in ways Advanced Rotary training hasn’t been able to replicate in the past. This training will allow students to be more effective operators in their tactical platforms. As the world moves closer to unmanned weapons systems and automatic functionality, teaching students to be good cockpit task managers versus stick-and-rudder pilots will be key in the years to come.
The aircraft isn’t the only thing that’s upgrading in the rotary wing advanced training program. Along with the aircraft comes an updated curriculum that is specifically designed to meet the modern needs of the Fleet. This includes the continued use of the electronic kneeboard program as well as a shift to a more socratic method of teaching classroom material. The information itself has also been updated to better reflect what is being taught in the Fleet Replacement Squadrons during missions like search and rescue, logistics, and shipboard operations. While these flights are still presented as exposure for the time being, the premise is that students will be better prepared and can make an easier transition to learning these subjects in their specific communities once they earn their Wings of Gold.
All-in-all, the TH-73 has the means to be the conduit through which the next generation of rotary wing aviators’ foundations are built. The ability for students to learn fundamental skill sets in an aircraft that is closer in feel and ability to what they will see in the Fleet is instrumental in preparing these Naval Aviators to carry the torch into the future, allowing the United States and her allies to enhance their lethality for whatever lies ahead.
Increased Firepower Provides Unique Capability for Combat Rescue
From 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
The943rd Rescue Group (RQG) designed a concept to mount four additional M240 machine guns onto the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter to provide more firepower to the 920th Rescue Wing’s personnel recovery task force in contested environments.
The wing searched for an innovative way to bring more firepower to the fight and with the HH-60G scheduled to be retired, it had to be cost effective and easily transferred to the new HH-60W Jolly Green II because of the similar design structures.
The 943rd RQG operated within three constraints: utilize only available resources, work within Air Force manuals and technical orders to the maximum extent possible, and have minimal impact to manpower.
Most HH-60 weapons configurations are comprised of two guns in any combination of the GAU-2C 7.62mm minigun, GAU 18/A .50 caliber machine gun, or M240 machine gun. The team had a goal of adding four additional weapons onto the aircraft and examined what would work on both platforms. It was discovered that the .50 caliber machine gun would not work because the floor design of the HH-60G would not support the torque applied by the GAU 18/A. The aircraft’s minigun also would not work because of the power required to operate the weapons.
“The M240 is multi-capable equipment for our personnel recovery task force that will enable us to perform contestedarea combat search and rescue (CSAR), logistics under attack, and agile combat employment. It will increase our offensive and defensive capabilities, at an extremely low cost, and give us flexibility for air and land use around the world,” said Col. Jesse Hamilton, 920th Rescue Wing (RQW) Commander.
This concept required the integration or redesign of three separate parts to house two M240s on each door opening. First, a base stand from an existing cooperative project within the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve was found to meet the requirements. Second, an aircraft mount that was previously utilized by the 55th and 71st Special Operations Squadrons for their .50 caliber gunship operations was added to the base. Third, working in conjunction with industry partners, the group took an MK99 gun mount that was normally used for patrol boat operations to mount two M240 caliber machine guns that hold 1,200 rounds of ammunition. To use this mount, the 355th Maintenance Group at Davis-
Monthan Air Force Base fabricated gun mount stops for proper operations within the aircraft.
In a rescue scenario, one HH-60 outfitted as a gunship would integrate with the CSAR task force and provide additional self-escort capabilities. Should that aircraft be needed for rescue, such as a mass casualty, noncombatant evacuation operation, or embassy evacuation, the guns can be removed within seconds, instantly transforming the aircraft into an additional rescue vehicle platform.
“As we perform forward operations at the edge of the battlespace, we will have multi-capable equipment that can be operated by multi-capable Airmen. As Agile Combat Employment (ACE) operations advance, this airborne platform can become a land-based, defensive fighting position to defend an Initial Contingency Location/Temporary Contingency Location or ICL-Forward,” said Lt. Col. Joe Romeo, 943rd Security Forces Squadron Commander.
The next step in the process is operational testing in coordination with the Air Guard Air Reserve Test Center before the system can be used and fired on flying aircraft. “This capability increases the lethality of the PRTF and improves point defense in forward operations and also increases the capacity for air base ground defense in support of the projection of airpower,” Romeo said.
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The 943rd Rescue Group designed a concept to mount four M240 machine guns inside an HH-60G Pave Hawk. U.S. Air Force photo by Andre Trinidad, USMC
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HSC’s Double Bubble Trouble
By LT I.M.
Whenthe Ronald Reagan Strike Group left the Northern Arabian Sea last September, it was the end of an era. For the first time in over 20 years, there was no longer a carrier in 5th Fleet. The end of the war in Afghanistan signaled a shift in the militar. For the Navy,that meant focusing more on the Indo-Pacific looming threat of the nearpeer power that is China and increasing our presence in the South China Sea. What this means for the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is more interactions with Chinese and more long range constructive kills, all of which occur over vast open stretches of ocean. You may be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC)?” The answer to that question is simple enough. We are, as we have always been, tasked to recover our fellow aviators when they are having the worst day of their lives.
As the Navy and the Air Wing move into maritime operations in and around China, the Air Wing leadership looks to do long range maritime strikes, the possibility of interactions with opposing forces increases. With this increased interaction comes the very real world possibility of an aircraft being shot down, “swapping paint” during an intercept, and the ever present possibility of an aircraft malfunction hundreds of miles away from the carrier. In the event of this happening, the HSC Community has asked itself how it can best serve in the Personnel Recovery (PR) realm. In preparation for this flight, there has been extensive planning around Distributed Maritime Personnel Recovery (DMPR). For the HSC Community to be successful in DMPR, we have to increase the combat radius of the MH-60S. The Sierra’s fuel system, originally based on the Blackhawk's system, is not as robust as its sister aircraft, the MH-60R, and other legacy Seahawks. The Block One Sierras only had an internal capacity of 2,400
pounds of fuel which gives the operator approximately two hours of flight time. This led to a call for the Extended Range Fuel System (ERFS), which gives the Sierra the option of adding up to two auxiliary tanks, internally positioned in the cabin, thus increasing the fuel capacity of the aircraft by 1,400 pounds per tank. The HSC Community now considers a single auxiliary tank the “standard,” however, with this new operational requirement, maybe the community will shift to a new standard of dual auxiliary tanks.
Every year HSC-12 uses the dual auxiliary tank configuration on its cross country from mainland Japan to Okinawa. Senior aircraft commanders would always warn their junior copilots, “Make sure both tanks transfer, you won’t make it with trapped gas.” This statement is true. If you trap enough gas, completing the legs can be impossible. On the last leg of my first cross country to Okinawa, which is primarily overwater, we trapped about 500 pounds in one of our auxiliary tanks. Fortunately for the crew, the weather was good and we were able to land above NATOPS minimums, but our low fuel lights had come on prior to touchdown. If we had to delay for weather or had more of a headwind, it could have led to a more pressing problem. During this flight, we changed which auxiliary tank we used each time we transferred fuel. This was the technique that this Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC) had heard from one guy, who knows somebody, who said 80% of the time it works 100% of the time. During this cross country, all three HACs had different ideas and methods for using the auxiliary tanks. This anecdote serves more to show that there are no codified procedures and that it is more of an, “I heard to do it this way,” than any authorized procedure published in a governing publication. All NATOPS has to say about dual auxiliary tank (commonly referred to as
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“double bubble”) operations is how to fuel the aircraft and contains no inflight procedures. These problems led HSC-12 to look for more answers when it came to the use of the double bubble configuration.
Working back to the problem at hand, long range maritime strikes and Defensive Counter Air (DCA) missions require HSC to remain flexible and ready to execute PR while using the dual auxiliary configuration to match the fixed-wing ranges. HSC-12, on their Summer Patrol 2022, began using dual auxiliary tanks more regularly. Everything from plane guard, to logistics runs, to MEDEVACs, all while collecting data about the use of the fuel transfer system. One major reason for the data collection was to determine if there is, in fact, a “best” method to transfer fuel from our auxiliary tanks into the main tanks to avoid trapping fuel. We used different methods. One method involved transferring one tank down to 100 pounds, secure the fuel transfer, and then switch tanks. Another involved transferring from the tank and letting the system automatically secure before switching tanks. The final method was to transfer in 500 pound increments, switching between the tanks each time. We found that when you only switch tanks once and secure the fuel transfer with around 100 pounds remaining in the tank, it seems to have best results. We are continuing to collect data during our Fall Patrol in order to provide the best answer to the dual auxiliary tank fuel transfer problem.
The use of the dual auxiliary tank configuration is not without drawbacks. The biggest being that the auxiliary tanks significantly reduce cabin space. Per our publications, we are only authorized to take three passengers in seats while in the dual auxiliary tank configuration. Furthermore, in the dual auxiliary configuration, we are unable to support any VERTREP operations as the forward auxiliary tank, when installed, sits on top of the cargo hook access hatch. Additionally, installation of the second auxiliary tank inhibits the ability to install the deck-plate mounted GAU-21, .50 caliber machine gun. One of the major missions of HSC is combat logistics and this configuration limits our ability to execute this mission.
The configuration also presents an inconvenience and distraction to aircrewmen. In order to change tanks, the aircrewmen must crawl back to the tanks to change a directional valve. This can be a difficult to reach switch, and if the aircraft has any cargo or passengers, the crewman must first climb over them in order to switch the valve. Not only can this be difficult, but it also takes their attention away from the mission at hand.
Just as the Navy is evolving to better counter a near-peer adversary, the HSC Community must evolve as well. We must look for ways to increase our capability for the missions we are called to do. Perhaps we should look to add additional tanks, or ones that allow us to more easily configure to the mission at hand. A good starting place could be something akin to what we see with the Army Blackhawks with their external wingmounted tanks, or perhaps a door frame mounted or window mounted .50 cal. While missions such as HVU protection and combat logistics will always remain, the days of the CSG regularly going through the Strait of Hormuz are over for now. As more CSGs and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) start focusing on operations in the vicinity of China and the South and East China Seas, we must invigorate our focus to other mission sets like DMPR. We must begin to develop more robust procedures, or find an engineering solution for routine operations with dual auxiliary tanks. Until then, we must continue to gather data about how to most effectively employ our beloved aircraft.
Extended Range Fuel System (ERFS)
The Origins of the Navy’s New COD Aircraft, the CMV-22B Osprey
By CDR John C. Ball, USN (Ret.)
The February 2022 return of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and CVW-2, the first “Air Wing of the Future,” marked the initial deployment together of Naval Aviation’s three advanced aircraft: the F-35C Lightning II, the E-2D Hawkeye, and the CMV-22B Osprey, the Carrier On-Board Delivery (COD) replacement for the C-2 Greyhound.
This article focuses on the evolution of the tiltrotor aircraft from an aviation oddity to its proven stature today as a versatile workhorse of the armed forces, including its latest role as the Navy’s new COD aircraft.
The tiltrotor concept is just one of many innovative configurations built since the 1950’s that were envisioned with the ability to fly high and fast yet hover and land virtually anywhere. These have included pure lift jets such as the AV-8 Harrier, tail sitters such as the Ryan XFV-1, ducted fans such as the Bell X-22, and tilt-wings such as the big Tri-Service XC-142. A host of other configurations were designed and flown, yet in the end, the tiltrotor concept has survived as the best compromise for the multi-mission service of transport, shipboard operations, and even external load operations.
Today’s V-22 Osprey is actually the third generation of successful tiltrotors, a configuration type that started flying in the 1950’s. The first tiltrotor to achieve full conversion from helicopter to airplane mode was the Air Force’s XV-3 Convertiplane built by Bell Helicopter. First flown in 1955, it proved the viability of the tiltrotor concept and went on to fly with NASA until 1962. Powered by a reciprocating engine, it was underpowered but did accomplish 110 full conversions from helicopter to airplane mode. Taking advantage of turboshaft engines and lessons learned from the XV-3, the NASA/Army/Navy Bell XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft was its successor and had a most successful career from 1977
until its retirement in 2003. This second generation tiltrotor proved the feasibility of the type to fulfill a wide range of missions. Its success helped usher in the development of today’s V-22 Osprey, the third generation tilt rotor.
Flying the XV-15
The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has been flying for an incredible 33 years, and I have fond memories of flying a tiltrotor, but not the Osprey. You see, I flew its predecessor, the smaller, experimental Bell XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft. As a Navy test pilot in the 1980’s, I had the good fortune of flying the XV-15 in some preliminary military operational tests. The XV-15 - there were two examples - was built by Bell Helicopter under contract to NASA to demonstrate the feasibility of the tiltrotor concept. First flown in 1976, the XV-15 was smaller and much simpler than the V-22, using Army T53 engines and mechanical flight controls. It had a crew of two pilots sitting on ejection seats, with that instrumentation in the small cabin. Flying the XV-15 was straightforward and fun and it became a perfect platform for many guest pilot flights. Although a unique design for its time, its relative simplicity contributed to its legacy as one of the most successful X-planes of all time.
I flew the XV-15 during an exciting assignment at the Naval Air Test Center (NATC). After two tours flying VERTREP in the Navy H-46 Sea Knight (squadrons HC-6 and HC11) and a master’s degree from post-graduate school, I attended Test Pilot School (TPS), a grueling but rewarding year during which I flew 18 different aircraft types. Upon completion of TPS in 1981, I was the lone Navy pilot among five Marines assigned to the Attack/ Assault Branch since I’d flown the H-46. Our branch tested any helicopter types that weren’t anti-submarine warfare (ASW). As the Joint Service Advanced Vertical Lift (JVX) Program developed into an
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The NASA/Bell XV-15 tiltrotor flies abeam USS Tripoli (LPH 10) during the three-day shipboard evaluation in 1982. The crew was LCDR John Ball and Bell test pilot Dorman Cannon. Credit: Bell Helicopter Textron
important program, it looked to become the successor to the Navy/Marine H-46 Program. Some visionaries in the Navy recognized the potential of a tiltrotor for naval applications. They wanted to perform some military demonstrations with the experimental XV-15 tiltrotor concept demonstrator, and actually fly the XV-15 on a ship. These demonstrations solidified in 1982 when the Navy allocated $4M for shipboard testing, the Navy earmarked a ship, and NASA made one of the two aircraft available. The ship assigned was USS Tripoli (LPH 10) based in San Diego.
The tests were assigned by NAVAIR to NATC, specifically our branch, and I was fortunate to be assigned as project officer and pilot. As usual, I would team with a Navy civilian flight test engineer to plan and execute the tests. I would fly the XV-15 with Bell’s test pilot, Dorman Cannon, acting as safety pilot. An experienced former Marine, Dorman had flown on the first flight of the Bell XV-15, and later would command the first flight of the Bell-Boeing V-22 in 1989.
As a new test pilot, I learned that there is a lot more to being a Navy test pilot than just flying. I was pleased to team with Mr. Dave DuFresne, an experienced flight test engineer. We began to meticulously plan and orchestrate this “shipboard evaluation” as we called it. We felt the term “sea trials” would be inappropriate since the XV-15 was only an experimental aircraft.
We found that planning this unique flight test with a Navy ship was relatively simple, but making it happen was complex and often frustrating, taking most of our effort. For instance, who would authorize this NASA/Bell aircraft and a civilian pilot to fly off a Navy ship? We had to answer many similar questions and perform a myriad of tasks such as installing tie down rings on the aircraft for shipboard use, training the Navy deck crew to work with this unique aircraft, arranging shipboard fueling, deciding what deck markings to use, coordinating for the NASA telemetry van to be aboard the ship, and planning helo transportation for test observers to and from the ship. To avoid any electromagnetic interference,
the ship powered down its radars while the XV-15 was there, and used only a UHF radio. We even mounted a small movie film camera on the tail looking forward - Bell wanted plenty of coverage. At NAVAIR, LCDR Paul Roberts did a superb job of assisting us with cutting through the Navy red tape. And this was in the days before email, the Internet, and even fax machines. Instead we used naval messages, telephone calls, typed letters, carbon paper, and the US Mail.
For my flying role, I prepared by studying Bell’s flight manual and anything else I could find. Our contacts at NAVAIR arranged a familiarization flight for me in NASA’s XV-15 at Ames Research Center on 1 July 1982 where I flew with NASA pilot, Dan Dugan. I clearly recall that when I walked into the pilots’ preflight briefing, I was struck to find a roomful of NASA people there. For a moment, I felt like I was in a briefing for an Apollo moon shot - all for my simple “fam” flight. During our short local flight, Dan showed me the basics of flight in a tiltrotor and the unique accelerations, sensations, and noises especially during transition from helicopter to airplane mode. That’s when the rotor discs rotate 90 degrees, coming down past the canopy. After locking the nacelles in airplane mode, the rotor RPM was lowered from 98% to 86%, with a notable change in noise level. My flight was invaluable, since it highlighted the unique characteristics of the tiltrotor and gave me confidence to jump right into testing.
In mid-July, our small Navy team traveled to San Diego and met the other test personnel. The XV-15 had just flown in from Fort Huachuca where it had flown its first operational tests with the Army, evaluating radar vulnerability and terrain flight. At North Island, we operated from the HS-6 spaces and used the HS-10 flight line. The XV-15 flew in wearing a desert camouflage scheme, done in water-based paint. After a trip to the wash rack, the aircraft returned with its base coat of gray paint, with a small “USS TRIPOLI” and “N702NA” stenciled on each side of the fuselage. It was interesting that as we began flying out of North Island, the base tower operators remarked that we were difficult to see in the typical summer
The Bell XV-3 in airplane mode when operated by NASA. Although performance-limited, the XV-3 proved the viability of the tiltrotor concept. It is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Credit: Mark Aldrich Collection
A 1983 test evaluated the ability of people to operate beneath a hovering tiltrotor in support of external loads. Note the high-visibility orange paint added after the 1982 shipboard testing. Credit: Bell Helicopter Textron
The first Osprey ship landing occurred on 4 December 1990 with the fourth prototype V-22 on board USS Wasp (LHD 1). The complex blade folding feature allows the large aircraft to fit on ship’s elevators and in the hangar bay. Credit: USN
San Diego coastal haze. It seems that Bell had painted us in a tactical gray paint scheme - years before it arrived in the Fleet.
We spent two weeks on workups ashore, practicing running landings, sideward flight to simulate hovers in a crosswind, landings to a spot, and working with Tripoli’s flight deck crew. To regain ship currency, Dorman and I made landings and takeoffs on Tripoli in an H-46 Sea Knight from North Islandbased squadron, HC-3.
The First Tiltrotor Ship Landings
Finally, on 2 August, Dorman and I started up the X-15, taxied out, and flew seaward, transitioning to airplane mode, always a thrilling acceleration. I was feeling comfortable after my ten flights in the aircraft. We rounded Point Loma at 200 knots and quickly reached the ship offshore. As we approached the ship, we beeped our nacelles aft using the switch on the collective lever, and slowed to 90 knots. We made a slow approach up the stern, stabilized in a hover, and made an easy descent to a touchdown in the center of the deck. It was an uneventful yet historic landing.
There had been concern by Bell management as to which of us would make that first landing, me or Dorman. In the end, he and I decided between ourselves. Dorman, being the true gentleman he was, deferred to me to make that first landing. I thought it interesting that Dorman, except for his few landings the week prior, had made his last ship landing as a Marine pilot in 1966.
It is noteworthy that some Bell photographs of our first landings were flown off the ship that day, developed quickly, and flown to Washington that night, arriving on Capitol Hill the next morning. At this time, the JVX Program was in its infancy and needed support in Congress during debate on the defense budget.
The naysayers questioned what would happen near the deck edge with one rotor over the deck and one rotor over the
water. Obviously the XV-15 had a relatively high downwash because of its rotor size, and some people had a genuine concern. However, as an H-46 pilot I had hovered for hours with one rotor on and one rotor off the deck edge over small ships. Nevertheless, to address this concern, we hovered over the catwalk and found no perceptible change in flight characteristics or control positions.
We flew three days of tests on Tripoli, and gradually worked different spots, flew in various wind conditions, used different approach patterns, hovered at various heights, and flew a nifty maneuver we called a rolling takeoff. For this we positioned ourselves just forward of the island, tilted the nacelles slightly forward, pulled collective, released the brakes, and accelerated toward the bow, lifting off in less than 100 feet. This takeoff used much less than hover power and was an obvious takeoff method for heavy weights, like a Harrier. One day, to our surprise, Dorman and I were told by the Air Boss that we had just made the 60,000th landing on Tripoli, which was celebrated with a traditional Navy sheet cake on the flight deck during a refueling break.
In all, we spent three days at the ship, flying out each morning from North Island. We performed 54 takeoffs and landings with no issues and completed all test objectives, including plenty of photographs and videos.
“The Job’s Not Done ’til the Paperwork’s Complete!”
So after the excitement of the tests, Dave DuFresne and I hunkered down to begin writing the formal technical report, a document more boring than NATOPS. We gathered and crunched the data, generated charts, and made
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The XV-15 performs a vertical takeoff from Tripoli, one of 54 takeoffs and landings performed in three days. The ship’s UH-1N flew rescue and photo chase during the tests. Credit: Bell Helicopter Textron
recommendations. One was to include a chin bubble window in future tiltrotors, to aid in precise landings. Common in helicopters, the XV-15 did not have one, and its absence quickly became apparent to me at the ship. Early concept drawings for the V-22 did not include a chin bubble. When the V-22 was built, it did have one, and I like to think that our report made the difference.
After our shipboard evaluation, our Pentagon sponsor arranged for us to brief OP-05, VADM Schoultz, and a host of others in the Pentagon. I focused for days by preparing my briefing, a state-of-the-art multi-media presentation consisting of colorful technical VU-graphs and 16 mm videoclips. I spent long days perfecting it at the photo lab, where we spliced film clips and tweaked my slides. This was my first and only trip to the Pentagon, where we were hosted by our sponsor, CAPT
make the aircraft more visible around the airport. In May 1983, I flew a short program of three test flights. Two flights consisted of overwater hovers, a practical evaluation of the downwash while hovering at Mountain Creek Lake adjacent to NAS Dallas, only a few miles from Bell’s facility. Like most lakes in Texas, it was actually a reservoir of fresh water, which eliminated any concern of salt water ingestion by the aircraft. Except for one high hover at sea during the Tripoli flights, the XV-15 had not hovered overwater, so these tests were essential to see the effects of a tiltrotor’s unique downwash pattern on spray ingestion, the effects of ambient winds on the downwash, and the ability to rescue a person from the water. No attempt was made to actually hoist a person, since the XV-15 was certainly not suitable for that. We did employ two Navy rescue swimmers who were deployed by boat into the lake and acted as “survivors” and rescue swimmers. They concluded that a tilt rotor could be used for these missions and its downwash effects were comparable to those of Fleet helicopters.
Next was a single flight at Bell’s facility, this time with personnel under the aircraft, as if hooking up an external load. Again, this was another first, and showed that personnel could work underneath a hovering tilt rotor. As expected, the downwash characteristics were different from a helicopter, with the strongest downwash being low to the ground, making walking challenging. Nevertheless, we concluded that a tilt rotor could be used for external loads.
The tests with the XV-15 tiltrotor were representative of a smaller aircraft than the V-22, which would be roughly twice the size and three times the weight of the XV-15. The effects of this scale-up would be evaluated years later, during the V-22’s engineering and operational testing.
Beginnings of the V-22 program
Jim Magee, a former squadron CO of mine. It was pretty heady stuff for this O-4 from Pax River to brief a group of very senior officers. I thought my briefing was going well until I noticed an admiral clearly dozing off in the front row of the darkened room. Well, it was after lunch, but it sure didn’t do anything for my ego. Nevertheless, the audience did impress upon me the weight the Navy placed on the opinions of its test pilots.
More Tiltrotor Navy Testing
Following the success of this project, the Navy arranged follow-on testing to investigate the potential of a tiltrotor for external loads and personnel rescue. So the following year, I was reunited with Dorman Cannon and the same XV-15 at Bell’s experimental facility at Arlington Airport, Texas, the home of Bell’s XV-15. This time the XV-15 sported some bright orange panels over that gray paint, a sensible way to
In 1982 the Army, Air Force, and Marines conducted a study to identify a vehicle best suited for their future missions. The study concluded that a tiltrotor best met those requirements. Thus began the JVX Program that resulted in development of today’s V-22. In 1985, the V-22 was officially named the Osprey. In 1986, Full Scale Development was authorized, and the team of Bell-Boeing set to work building six prototypes. The Army decided to leave the program in 1988, leaving the Marine Corps with its MV-22 model, and the Air Force with its Special Operations CV-22. The first flight of a V-22 took place on March 19, 1989 followed by an aggressive test program, primarily at Naval Air Test Center, NAS Patuxent River where an Integrated Test Team was based, with both contractor and military pilots. An early milestone was recorded on 4 December 1990, when V-22 prototype number four landed aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) for the first V-22 ship landing.
Retirement of the XV-15
As the V-22 began flying, it overshadowed the XV-15, which transitioned from being a cutting-edge aeronautical
Overwater hovers performed in 1983 at Mountain Creek Lake, Texas, evaluated unique downwash characteristics in support of the aircrew rescue mission. Note the Navy rescue swimmer below the XV-15. Credit: Bell Helicopter Textron
achievement to a proven aircraft that could demonstrate what a future tiltrotor could do. NASA operating funds dwindled and the two experimental XV-15s were no longer cutting-edge aviation. The two aircraft were bailed to Bell and they served useful roles as testbeds, demonstrators, and promotional vehicles for a civil tiltrotor. In fact, for its appearance in the 1995 Paris Air Show, the XV-15 was painted in a snappy executive livery, complete with painted faux cabin windows that belied its origins as an experimental concept demonstrator.
One of its most effective roles was for guest pilot flights. These provided a priceless experience to notable and influential people such as Senator Barry Goldwater, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, and numerous flag officers. From 1981 to 2003, a total of 419 guest pilots flew in one of the two XV15s, a record for an X-plane.
After my retirement from the Navy, I began an exciting nine years as an experimental test pilot at Bell Helicopter in Texas, flying nearly every Bell aircraft of the day, including the XV15 again. Thus, I was able to fly both examples of the XV15, N702NA on active duty, and later N703NA when it was bailed to Bell, including thrilling daily demonstrations with a V-22 in the 1995 Paris Air Show. I consider my 156 hours in the XV-15 to be a highlight of my 30-year flying career.
After 26 years of flight operations, the last XV-15 was finally retired. In September 2003, N703NA was flown to the National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport in Virginia, where today it sits on display near the nose of the supersonic Concorde.
The Osprey Matures
After its initial successes, the V-22 Program experienced over a decade of controversy, fueled by its rising costs and fatal accidents. Between 1991 and 2000, four major accidents occurred and there were two extended groundings. The program was even formally canceled by the Pentagon, yet the Marine Corps continued its support, and the Congress funded the program until it was included again in the President’s Budget. The scrutiny led to important redesigns, resulting in today’s improved V-22B model.
After the second grounding was lifted in 2002, the new V-22Bs began technical and operational testing anew. The Air Force received its first CV-22s at Edwards AFB in 2003. Extensive shipboard trials were flown in 2004 and 2005. The MV-22 Initial Operational Capability (IOC) was achieved in 2007 and Marine Corps deployments began that year. Since then, Ospreys have been deployed by the Air Force and Marine Corps throughout the world. Today, over 400 examples have been delivered to the Marines, Air Force, Navy, and recently to Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, its first foreign customer.
in Today’s Air
For years the Navy knew it needed a replacement for the C-2 Greyhound in its COD mission that it has been performing since 1966. Despite upgrades over the years, an aircraft was needed that could transport the huge F-35C power module, something the C-2 could not do. In 2015, the proven success of the V-22 led to its selection as the COD replacement for the C-2 Greyhound.
To support its new aircraft, the Navy established the Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission (VRM) Wing at NAS North Island to provide VRM squadrons. The Navy’s first Osprey squadron, VRM-50, was established at NAS North Island in October 2020 as the Fleet Replacement unit. Two months later, the first operational squadron, VRM-30, was established at NAS North Island. It provided the aircraft and crews for the first deployment aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
The CMV-22B is designed to carry up to 6,000 pounds of cargo and/or personnel and operate up to a range of 1,150 nautical miles. A few changes were made to the Marines’ MV22B to equip it for the Navy mission. The Navy variant has extended range tanks in each sponson and wing, a beyond line-of-sight HF radio, improved fuel dump capability, a public address system for passengers, and an improved lighting system for cargo loading.
The first flight of a CMV-22B was made on 21 January 2020 at Bell’s production facility in Amarillo, Texas. That October, the first ship landings and takeoffs were made by a CMV-22B aboard the amphibious transport dock, USS New York (LPD 21). A month later, its first operations from an aircraft carrier took place aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
Following the return of CVW-2’s deployment, the Navy’s Air Boss, VADM Whitesell, summed up the CMV-22B’s role, saying, “With distributed maritime ops, longer ranges, distances between multi-carrier operations, distances from land-based areas, and the ability for the CMV-22B to plop down on unimproved surfaces, it proved to be a game-changer for us on deployment."
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Author LCDR John Ball, left, and Bell test pilot Dorman Cannon with XV-15 N702NA on board Tripoli. For the shipboard tests, the aircraft was fitted with unique tie-down points under the nose, tail, and wings. Credit: John Ball
Adapted from the author’s article that first appeared in the Tailhook Association’s The Hook magazine, Fall 2022 issue.
Fisher House – A Sailor’s Home Away from Home
By CAPT Bob Rutherford, USN (Ret.) Coronado Fisher House Southern California Board Member
Fisher House Southern California (FHSC) provides welcoming and comfortable lodging for veterans, active duty servicemembers, and their families while they receive treatment for injury or illness at nearby Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Naval, or other Southland Hospitals at no cost to them, for as long as needed.
It’s no secret that lodging in Southern California is expensive. But, it is not as well known to active and retired servicemembers that Fisher House services may be available to them when they need it most and can afford it the least.
Fisher House SoCal maintains four Fisher Houses, totaling 42 rooms, that serve veterans and military families receiving care at San Diego Naval Medical Center at Balboa, Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital, and as far north as the Long Beach VA Medical Center. If a Fisher House is full, the organization will even arrange temporary lodging in a nearby hotel until a room opens.
And, if treatment is being done at VA Loma Linda Medical Center, VA San Diego Medical Center, or throughout California’s Inland Empire (where there are no current Fisher Houses), the Fisher House SoCal Organization will arrange for commercial lodging, at no cost and for as long as needed, for families required to travel fifty miles or more for that care.
It all started back in 1990 when Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher were shocked to learn about a U.S servicewoman receiving medical care at a military hospital. Unable to afford a hotel stay, her husband spent every night of her hospitalization sleeping in his car so he could be with her every day.
The Fishers decided to change that. As a result, there are now close to 100 Fisher Houses throughout the country (and three overseas) that have served nearly 450,000 military and veteran families so far, saving them more than $540 million in lodging and transportation costs. There are still around 130 VA Hospitals across the country without a supporting Fisher House, so more are being planned.
Fisher House SoCal does all of this through private donations. The houses, located just steps away from the hospital, are comfortable and provide families with all the amenities of home. House staff create a warm and compassionate environment for families to find support from others in similar situations, help with the healing process, and assist guests with their daily needs.
I joined the Fisher House Board because of the passion and commitment the organization’s community-based volunteers demonstrate, beyond the essential support provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, in recognizing
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The first West coast Fisher House.
the special sacrifices and hardships our men and women in uniform have made to protect and defend our country’s freedom and security.
A stay can range from just a few days, to weeks, or even months depending on the nature of the medical care required. Families come from as near as 50 miles from a facility, to as far as across state lines, across the nation, and from the AsiaPacific region. Imagine having to leave your base or home for serious medical needs and having to find a temporary home in a place you’ve never been!
When you show up at one of our houses–tired, nervous, and maybe even hungry–you’re greeted by our extraordinary house management teams who take every step to ease you into your room, show you around the property, make sure
the kids are taken care of, provide you with concierge quality attention, and supply you with ready-to-prepare food. Gift cards for things you forgot to pack, transportation, and even your child’s favorite snack or toy are all within reach at Fisher House.
I’m a humble thirty-year Navy veteran and a proud member of Fisher House SoCal. As we say to those we meet: “The last thing you want to think about when you go to the hospital is, “where is my family?”
Fisher House is here for you, we’re family.
Please visit our website at www.FisherHouseSoCal.org to learn more about our work and to read about some of the families we’re helping.
Fisher House is here for you, we’re family.
Rotary Wing Aviation—A Family Tradition
By CDR Dave “Brisket” Kiser, USN
TheVigilant Eagles of HT-18 and TRAWING FIVE had the opportunity to host CAPT Matthew “Colonel” Kiser, Prospective Commanding Officer of the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), on December 2nd, 2022. CAPT Kiser winged February 15th, 2002 with the Eightballers of HT-8 as Unrestricted Naval Aviator #R26435. The helicopter training squadrons invite guest speakers who motivate the newly-winged aviators and provide insight to their tremendous futures within the rotary-wing community. CAPT Kiser did just that by providing insight into both carrier and CRUDES life, giving context to those experiences with his rotary-wing background, and sharing his family impact on the HSL/HSM Community. .
After flight, school CAPT Kiser joined the HSL Community, initially serving with the “Grandmasters” of HSL-46, deploying twice on the USS Klakring (FFG 42). He then served as a “Warlord” at HSL-51/HSM-51 for his Department Head tour and later commanded the “Raptors” of HSM-71 in San Diego. Selected to join the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, he recently completed a tour as the Executive Officer (XO) of USS Eisenhower (CVN 69).
CAPT Kiser is the older brother of CDR Dave “Brisket” Kiser, Executive Officer of HT-18. Serving in the U.S. Navy was a lifelong plan for CAPT Matt Kiser, but CDR Dave Kiser initially had no intentions of joining the military. However, after seeing a SH-60B Seahawk in action, CDR Dave Kiser decided Naval Aviation was the right choice for him. In addition to both graduating from Texas A&M, both Kisers started their aviation careers in the HSL Community, and ultimately transitioned into the HSM Community. Additionally, CAPT Kiser is married to CDR Jennifer Kiser, who was also part of the LAMPS heritage. Collectively, they’ve flown with the “Airwolves,” “Grandmasters,” “Vipers,” “Proud Warriors,” “Warlords,” “Seahawks,” “Magicians,” and “Raptors,” nearly half of the HSM squadrons in existence today!
The Kisers truly personify a Rotary Wing family and are grateful for all the opportunities afforded them by serving as Naval Aviators. The Naval Aviation Rotary Wing Community is an asset to the Department of Defense and it is important to highlight to the newly-winged aviators the role we play in defending this nation. Thank you CAPT Matt Kiser for motivating the new pilots as they embark on their military careers.
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CAPT Kiser aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower ( CVN 69) U.S. Navy Photo LCDR Shawn Eklund,USN
HSC Joint Integration Abroad in Japan
By LT Ruthvik “Marbles” Kumar. USN
Operatinga helicopter squadron thousands of miles away across the Indo-Pacific presents many unique and strenuous challenges, but also presents exemplary opportunities not available back in the United States. HSC-12 was able to take full advantage of its Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) status this summer through joint integration with the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) and the 3rd Marines, the squadron is capable of performing Close Air Support (CAS), Personnel Recovery (PR), and Direct Action (DA) mission sets, filling a void left by a reduced footprint of Marine helicopter squadrons in the region and showcasing the versatility that HSC can provide in the future conflicts of the 21st Century.
On June 29th, 2022, Exercise Fuji Shinka was conducted where the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines (V32) Lima Company were conducting a joint exercise at Camp Fuji with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) 1st Mechanized Battalion. During the exercise, the JGSDF forces attempted to overtake a defensive position held by Lima Company. HSC-12 Det 1, stationed onboard NAF Atsugi, working with HSC-25 Det 6 was able to provide dedicated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and CAS to Lima Company Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTAC) helping Marine ground personnel identify and neutralize enemy positions to include a successful engagement by HSC-12 on a Japanese Type 90 Main Battle Tank. The exercise saw the helicopter crew utilize JGSDF BATRA II laser-receiving and GPS tracking vests allowing for higher fidelity fires adjudication during the exercise debrief, and increased relations with the JGSDF through the incorporation of their training systems. At the debrief, both the V32 Lima Company and JGSDF 1st Mechanized Battalion expressed gratitude for the HSC participation and the increased capability provided to V32 as it paved the way for future air integration in Fuji exercises.
The success of HSC integration during Fuji Shinka and the impact it had on JGSDF, persuaded leadership to include HSC in future dedicated JGSDF exercises. On August 23rd, 2022, JGSDF forces were conducting a Japanese Force-on-Force (FoF) Exercise consisting of an offensive JGSDF battalion engaging a defensive JGSDF battalion with embedded USMC JTACs using HSC-12 aircraft with simulated ordnance and BATRA II vests. The HSC-12 aircraft employed three simulated HELLFIRE engagements on one Type 89 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, one C2 Node, and one Type 90 Main Battle Tank. In addition, HSC-12 aircrew fluent in Japanese participated in the JGSDF Fuji Training Center (FTC) exercise control. The aircrew provided procedural feedback to JGSDF forces and back briefed HSC-12 on how JGSDF conducted event coordination. This exercise marked the first
time HSC-12 aircrew were able to integrate on such a deep level with a JGSDF, thus paving the way for future integration and further enhancing the fidelity of future joint operations.
The efforts demonstrated by HSC-12, USMC, and JGSDF forces culminated during Exercise Fuji Viper in September, 2022. The exercise consisted of FoF engagements between the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines (V33) Kilo and Lima Companies using JGSDF Terminal Air Controllers (TAC) supporting USMC JTACs. HSC-12 once again integrated with HSC-25 Det 6 and Army Aviation Battalion, Camp Zama to provide simulated CAS with real time shot validation conducted by on-scene assessors. We were also able to provide DA assistance in deploying V33 in various LZs on range during the exercise. HSC-12 aircraft directly communicated with JGSDF TACs under instruction from V33 JTACs to conduct engagements on designated targets. This opportunity marked the first time the squadron was able to communicate directly with JGSDF TACs and further enhanced the joint tactical employment of ordnance between U.S. Navy aircraft and JGSDF forces.
This summer, HSC-12 set out with the goal of integrating with various external assets, both U.S. and JSDF, to enhance military-to-military and joint capabilities both organic to and external to the U.S. military. Through the exercises described, it is evident HSC-12 was successful in its mission. JGSDF forces are eager to further work with U.S. aviation units and the squadron has received several requests for helicopter support on future exercises. These exercises provide increased allied strength in the Indo-Pacific theater and reaffirms the strength of partner relations within U.S. 7th Fleet.
U.S. Navy Corpsmen with 3d Battalion, 2d Marines conduct a casualty evacuation drill during Exercise Shinka 22.1 at Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Taggart, USMC
The Ten Commandments of being an Executive Assistant (EA)
By CAPT John Coyne, USN (Ret.)
After Command, there are few jobs in the Navy that are as exciting, challenging, rewarding, and potentially dangerous as being the Executive Assistant (EA) to a Flag Officer.
Being an EA provides a unique opportunity to learn about how a senior headquarters works while observing a Flag Officer on a daily basis and getting a glimpse of power, policy, and politics first hand.
I served five years as the Executive Assistant or Military Assistant for a variety of Army, Air Force, Marine, and Navy Flag Officers. Four were at the O-9 or lieutenant general/ vice admiral level and one was a major general.
These tours took place on major joint and combined North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Staffs, but the commandments apply to joint and service staffs as well.
My initial EA tour was for the Chief of Staff at Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy. We were doublehatted as the Chief of Staff for the Implementation Force (IFOR) in Sarajevo, Bosnia Hercegovina. Later, I served as the Military Assistant (MA) for the Deputy Chairman of the Military Committee at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Your purpose in life as an EA/MA is to make the boss more efficient and effective. Adherence to these commandments will go a long way towards a professionally rewarding relationship.
1. “Thou shalt tell the truth, for lies shall surely lead to your certain demise.” Your word is your bond. You must have integrity and always speak truth to power. Perception is reality and if the staff or your boss do not think you are a straight shooter, then you are of no value to the flag officer you serve. Integrity is also required and sometimes you have to offer the truth when you haven’t been asked for it.
2. “Thou shalt always remember that you don’t wear the stars.” Don’t mistake people being nice to you as the result of your charisma, intelligence, and good looks (?). People are nice to you because of who you work for. Remember, you work for a flag officer; you are not the Flag Officer. The benefits and prerequisites that come with the job do not transfer to you. Your time serving for a flag officer will be relatively short and those you disrespect in your boss's name will be waiting for you when you leave the position.
3. “Thou shalt never surprise the boss.” Sure, stuff happens, but it is your job to anticipate all the possible variables and provide your flag the information they need to function effectively. Get around the headquarters and talk to people–ensure that you are constantly communicating with the other EA’s on the staff. Doing so will exponentially expand your situational awareness and assist in preventing the boss from being embarrassed. All information is good, especially when it is bad. The boss needs to know when the stuff is about to hit the fan and you are the one who gets paid to tell them that.
4. “Thou shalt never guess.” Closely associated with the previous commandment, if you don’t know, say so, then find out what the answer is. Guessing what the boss wants, vice ensuring you know what they want, invariably doubles the workload of the staff. If someone wants to know what your boss thinks, go ask the boss and then provide the answer. Even better, put them on the phone or schedule them for an office call.
5. “Thou shalt take pride in the job, but not in thyself.” Not everyone is selected, or has what it takes, to be a successful EA/MA. By definition, an EA has a “short shelf life.” Wearing the “loop” or aiguillette lets everyone in the room know that you have the trust and confidence of your flag officer. That trust and confidence is perishable and can easily vanish if you allow your ego to get in the way.
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6. “Thou shalt give 110% effort at all times.” A flag officer’s day is filled with meetings, briefings, phone calls, schedule changes, office calls, and unanticipated crises. You have to be focused and constantly running over all the variations and permutations of any given issue from the time you get up in the morning until you hit the rack at night. Anticipation is the key to survival. Being in the front office is not a nine to five assignment and the consequences of not giving the flag your best effort every day, all day, is that you will find yourself out on the street.
7. “Thou shalt take care of the boss.” I never found this in my job description, but it is vitally important that you pay attention to the personal well-being of your flag officer. Are they getting the proper nutrition, rest, and exercise? Recognize when they need a break, anticipate the possibility in their schedule, and ensure they take it. Schedule an “easy” or “fun” day whenever possible.
8. “Thou shalt be a shock absorber for the staff.” Know when to “pause” or slow roll the boss’s “newest, best idea” if it is warranted. Prompt your flag to vent at you rather than the staff. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team, especially when it is not your fault!
9. “Thou shall not encourage the boss to flog the staff.” This is not to say that legitimate errors by the staff don’t have to be promptly corrected. This is more along the lines of everyone in the front office is having a bad day and we need someone to take it out on. It shouldn’t be the other flags or the unlucky staff officer who just walked in the door.
10. “Thou shalt have a sense of humor.” The hours are long, the responsibilities are crushing, but you have to keep a “weather eye” out for the joy in the moment and share it with the boss. A little levity goes a long way to encourage a smoothrunning office and a good working relationship with your flag.
It goes without saying that all flag officers are different. Your job is to adapt to their style and organize their schedule efficiently. The practical aspects of the job are recognizing your flag officer’s traits.
Is the boss an early riser or a just in time kind of person? Do they like to go home early or won’t leave until the inbasket is empty? What’s the best way for them to best process information, reading or discussion? Do they like a detailed read ahead or are they more comfortable reacting to the actual briefing? Are they more efficient when they have quiet or personal time built into their day, and when? These are all the kinds of things you need to take into account when working for a flag officer.
I was extremely fortunate to work for five flag officers whom I personally respected and admired. I was a better naval officer for having had the opportunity to learn from them. If you get the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to be an EA or MA.
About the Author
Captain Coyne is a retired naval aviator with thirty years’ service who commanded Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 37 in Barbers Point, Hawaii and Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy.
Read Rotor Review on your Mobile Device
Did you know that you can take your copy of Rotor Review anywhere you want to go? Read it on your kindle, nook, tablet or on your phone. Rotor Review is right there when you want it. You can also just select "stories inside" and read the articles formatted for easy cellphone reading.
Go to your App Store. Search for "Issuu." That’s the name of the platform that hosts Rotor Review (there is no charge for you to use this App).
To Download Issuu’s App
Create a login (this doesn’t have to be your NHA Login). They will send you a verification code – enter it per instructions. Next, enter “Rotor Review” in the search bar. Click on Rotor Review. Download to your device. Be informed, be entertained, be NHA.
The Differential Advantage of the CMV-22B
By CAPT Christopher “chet” Misner, USN (Ret.)
With geopolitical tensions rising in multiple regions of the world, it is very clear the United States military must be prepared to fight and win against a peer or near peer adversary. The increased capabilities shown from potential adversaries are driving the need for rapid development of modern warfighting systems along with a renewed focus on industrial capacity and production.
One will assume our colleagues in uniform are war-gaming countless scenarios to determine:
If we have the capabilities to deter and/or defeat a peer/ near-peer adversary.
If we have the equipment, parts, and the support structure to support a lengthy conflict.
These scenarios will be nothing like the localized operations in Grenada and Panama, and larger in both size and scope, to Operation Desert Storm. In the case of an Indo-Pacific fight, we would have to be ready for a scenario we have not seen for 80 years. The sheer size of the Pacific Area of Operations and the potential logistical capability gaps that will undoubtedly come to light when exploring Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO), Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), and Littoral Operations in a contested environment, will drive Combatant, Joint Force, and Component Commanders to spend as much time planning how to support the force as they will planning to employ it.
The requirement to move cargo between dispersed Expeditionary Advanced Bases (EABs), Forward Logistic Support Sites (FLSS), and future Light Amphibious Warships (LAW) at sea will prioritize the need for a dedicated logistics
connector. How the Joint Force leverages the versatility and capability of its aviation forces will be key and tiltrotor technology will play an essential role.
Securing the tiltrotor industrial base is something the Defense Department and Congress need to pay special attention to as they look toward the future of rotary-wing aviation. They must contemplate the tiltrotor industrial bases in Bell’s Amarillo and Fort Worth centers and Boeing’s Philadelphia facilities. They must also consider the 500-plus suppliers who support this program today and must continue to sustain it well into the 2050s and beyond.
The speed, range, endurance, overmatch, versatility, and operational flexibility the V-22 has demonstrated over decades of performance, including combat, paved the way for the Navy to develop its own variant of the Osprey. The versatility of the Navy’s CMV-22B gives naval commanders the flexibility to seize opportunities faster and far beyond current rotary wing capabilities. It also opens the door to new missions and operational possibilities that provide the Navy with a “differential advantage” it needs when it comes to solving the problem of contested logistics and support to a distributed Fleet and Joint Force. With two operational deployments completed for the U.S Navy, commanders are learning the CMV-22 is far more than a Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) replacement. The CMV has excelled in a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) role, with an increased range, speed, and ability to inflight refuel, capabilities that far exceed the legacy MH60S. Just as the Marine Corps found new and creative ways to leverage tiltrotor technology, the Navy will also learn how to operate and integrate the Osprey into the Carrier Air Wing and support the Fleet.
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If the Navy is going to leverage the CMV to solve complex logistics problems in contested environments and fully support the Fleet, the Navy will require more aircraft than exist in the current Program of Record (PoR). What the Navy must do is come to grips with the reality that the V-22 production lines in Philadelphia and Amarillo could come to an end in the nottoo-distant future. The Navy must leverage every opportunity to add to the Navy’s PoR in a budget conscious way to avoid any negative impacts on future sustainment challenges by maintaining capability and capacity for spare parts with an active production base and supply chain. Bell Boeing has decades of experience producing Ospreys, and that expertise
will be required if we are going to continue to preserve and upgrade the V-22 into the latter half of the century. Protecting the nation's only tiltrotor industrial base, by ensuring we have a “hot production line” and establishing a long-term tip-to-tail Performance Based Logistics (PBL) contract, are good starting points if our nation’s leaders are serious about having the force structure the Navy needs to ensure it can sustain the required logistical throughput in a contested environment.
About the Author
Christopher “chet” Misner is a retired Navy Captain who flew the SH-60F, HH-60H, T-45, and commanded the “Red Lions” of HS-15, Naval Air Station Kingsville, UVA NROTC, and is employed as a Senior Manager at Bell. These are his personal opinions.
Leonardo Subsidiary AgustaWestland to Exercise Option for the Production and Delivery of 26 TH-73A Thrasher Lot IV Training
Helicopters - Leonardo Press Release
On24 December 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) awarded the Leonardo subsidiary AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp. a USD 110,5 million modification to the previously awarded contract in which it will exercise the option for the production and delivery of 26 TH-73A Thrasher Lot IV Training Helicopters. The TH73As will be produced in Philadelphia (PA) and all work is expected to be completed in December 2024.
With this final Lot, the U.S. Navy's total requirement for 130 training helicopters to replace the TH-57B/C Sea Ranger will be completed. The previous three contracts (Lot) were in January 2020 (Lot I) for 32 TH-73As (USD 176,5 million), November 2020 (Lot II) for 36 helicopters (USD
171 million) and December 2021 (Lot III) for 36 helicopters (USD 159 million).
The TH-73A, made solely at Leonardo’s FAA-certified Part 21 Production line in Philadelphia (PA), will train the next generation of student aviators from the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard with Training Air Wing 5 at NAS Whiting Field (FL).
In September 2022, the first twelve students began training on the TH-73A, nicknamed the “Thrasher” by the US Navy. In November 2022, the first of those students completed their inaugural solo flights.
Photo by Marcos V. Oliveira (via Jetphotos.com)
Change of Command
Naval base Coronado
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 60 COMHSMWINGPAC
CAPT Newt McKissick, USN relieved
CAPT Dwight Clemons, USN December 1, 2022
CAPT Chris Richard, USN relieved
CAPT Brannon Bickel, USN December 8, 2022
CDR Mason W. Berry, USN relieved
CDR Christopher K. Whitehouse, USN December 8, 2022
Santa Flight for the Books
By LT Jamel "Trench Foot" Lawson, USN
4 HSC-2 “Fleet Angels” Flight Schedule Excerpt
When: Saturday, 03 December 2022
Where: Hampton Roads AOR (Norfolk, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach)
Route: Low, slow pass along Oceanview Beach
• HAC: LT Lawson “Elf#1”
• CP: LT Acuna “Elf#2”
• UA: AWSCM Nord “Santa”
• AA: AWSCM Coulard “Elf#3” & AWS2 Volkers
• Photographer: MC3 McDonough
Show military appreciation to the Hampton Roads AOR
• Initially fragged as a community relations collaboration with news outlets publicizing the flight event to local businesses and area residents in advance.
• Internal command event to usher in the Christmas Holiday and improve esprit de corps.
• Unintended consequence resulted in bringing huge smiles to Megan Buriak & son, Caulder.
Commentary from LT Lawson:
"I had no idea that AWS1 Buriak's Family would be at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront when we planned this flight. My original intent for our Oceanfront stop was to fly slowly down the Oceanfront while Santa waved to anyone who was present. However, upon noticing that his family was present, we made it a point to acknowledge them. I was on deployment with AWS1 Buriak as a member of HSC-8's Eightballers in the first half of 2020 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt. I spent 6 months working and flying with AWS1 Buriak. I can honestly say that he was a solid individual, and I had a great deal of respect for him. My most fond memory of AWS1 Buriak is when he saved a man from drowning in Guam during our first port call, and in the process of saving the man's life, he received a significant cut from the coral reef, causing a severe infection on his foot. This event alone was a testament to his selfless character and commitment to protecting others.
Unfortunately, when the mishap and memorial of the crew of Loosefoot 616 took place, I was on deployment with the Black Knights of HSC-4 onboard USS Carl Vinson, therefore I was unable to attend. Seeing the words "AWS1 Buriak Son" written in the sand immediately caught the crew's attention, and in all honesty, it gave me goosebumps and I abruptly took a hard right. As a crew, we felt it was only right to pay our respects to AWS1 Buriak and his family by circling over them. As we circled over top, the moment felt divine, as if it were ordained by God for us to be above AWS1 Buriak's son and family. I felt that the crew of five in Redhawk 733, along with an MC3 to capture the moment, were there as an airborne memorial for the five Sailors who lost their lives in the crash of Loosefoot 616 and as a symbol of God's presence in the Buriak family's life. Time will only tell the lasting impact that this will have on his son, but I am eternally grateful that my crew and I were able to have a positive impact on someone's life that day."
Santa and Crew on the Flight Line.
Santa in the "ready position"
Commentary from Megan Buriak: "Caulder and I were super grateful to experience the Santa fly-over with HSC-2 this morning. Since losing my husband, AWS1 James “Jimmy” Buriak, on August 31, 2021, in LOOSEFOOT 616 off the coast of San Diego, along with four other crew members, our life has been touched with special memories and by people who have gone above and beyond to show up for Caulder and myself.
This morning a little boy got to meet Santa for the very first time and in his favorite way – flying in a helicopter, something my son not only loves, but truly admires and enjoys. He waved and shouted … “Mamma, it’s Santa and Daddy’s friends” … while he blew kisses.
Since losing Jimmy, our life has been dedicated to giving back, honoring his life, his legacy, his service, and the motto … “So Others May Live.” This even includes starting a non-profit in his name and continuing his legacy - The AWS1 James Buriak Foundation.
We are a volunteer foundation that provides pre-mishap education to commands, squadrons, and families of the Navy and Marine Corps, coast to coast, as well as postmishap support, should they experience a worst-case scenario.
Region Two (Washington D.C.) held its Annual NHA Holiday Social at “Mattie and Eddie’s Irish Pub” in Pentagon City on Thursday, 8 December – it was a huge hit with a large turnout. Active duty and retirees gathered to enjoy camaraderie across communities, platforms, and generations – with plenty of good food and beverage to boot.
The one common thread was a shared background as members of the Rotary Force and NHA. Big thank you to P-Rez (CDR Tony Perez, USN), Jester (CDR Pat Jeck, USN (Ret.), and JORTS (LT Rob Platt, USN) for leading the charge and making this event happen.
Additionally, thank you to Sikorsky (Retired CAPTs Shawn Malone and Chip Whitfield) for their gracious funding to support this event every year.
We are mission capable, mission ready, and stand ready to help families just like mine should the call come. Caulder and I are relocating back to Virginia Beach soon. It is a place we have always called home and this morning reassured me why. Amazing, kind, and caring people live here. Please check out the foundation and spread our mission of Jimmy’s life and his legacy, and we hope that HSC-2 continues their mission of Santa Flights every year. This year, they made a Gold Star child’s dream come true with Santa in a Helo."
This was truly a Santa Flight for the books and demonstrates the raw power of a kind act and the ripple effect it has on all of us!
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Santa waves to Megan and Caulder Buriak
NHA’s Inaugural Helix Cup
By CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)
Seahawks bag the NHA Helix Cup!
Preceding the long Veteran’s Day weekend on 10 November, NHA held its inaugural Charity Golf Tournament benefitting the NHA Historical Society (NHAHS) and NHA Scholarship Fund (NHASF). A field of 125 golfers in 31 teams, representing Region 1’s HSM and HSC commands, vied for the coveted NHA HELIX CUP, a 40 pound, 32-inch-high, silver “Stanley Cup-like” trophy and equally important, NHA Region 1 bragging rights. HSM-41 Seahawks’ team "Big Putts" won the tourney in 2022 (shown in the photo: Scott Speakman, Luke Donahue, Mat Baker, and Paul Mauer).
As the 2022 champions, HSM-41 will defend the Helix Cup at the NHA Symposium on 17 May at Twin Oaks Golf Course in San Marcos. Thereafter, the helicopter unit that wins the annual NHA Tourney will proudly maintain and display the cup in their possession until the next annual tournament where they will defend their title.
Planning a Regional Event? Had a Regional Event? Tell the rest of the Helicopter /Tilt Rotor Community about it. Send us pictures and give us the story!
Osprey perched at North Island
CAPT JoEllen Drag-Oslund: Female Naval Aviator and Trailblazer “It’s because of her that we are here”
By LT Audrey “Pam” Petersen, USN
Theyear 2023 marks a significant milestone in Navy history and in naval aviation – 50 years of women flying in the Navy. In March 1973, the first group of women began U.S. Navy flight training in Pensacola. The following year, the group would become known as “The First Six.” LCDR Barbara Allen Rainey, CAPT Rosemary Bryant Mariner, USN (Ret.) CAPT Jane Skiles O’Dea, USN (Ret.), CAPT JoEllen DragOslund, USN (Ret.), CAPT Judith Neuffer, USN (Ret.) and CAPT Ana Marie Scott, USN (Ret.) were those first female aviators.
Training Air Wing Five at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., conducted a ceremony on October 21, 2023 to wing 33 newly designated Naval Helicopter Pilots. The guest speaker, CAPT JoEllen Drag-Oslund, USNR (Ret.), was in the same shoes as the men and women receiving their wings of gold back in 1974, when she received her wings. Oslund made history as the fourth female Naval Aviator to complete flight training and the first female to earn wings of gold as a helicopter pilot as designator R-12906.5. She went on to fly H-46 and H-3 helicopters in the Fleet.
As a senior in college, Oslund struggled to figure out what she wanted to do when she graduated. Her boyfriend at the time handed her a piece of paper and said, “I think you should go for this.” That piece of paper was a message released by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, then Chief of Naval Operations, one of a series of directives called Z-grams that were released during his tenure. Z-gram #116 changed the military’s structure by affording equal rights and opportunities to women who served.
The previously-restricted aviation pipeline was now open to women as a result of that Z-gram. After a few short-lived moments of self-doubt and a few more persuasive “you should go for this” from her friend, Oslund set her sights on Naval flight training. She graduated from college in 1972 and walked into the local recruiting office. She was nearly laughed out of the room when she handed them the Z-gram and requested to apply to flight school. The recruiting office had not caught wind of the message traffic yet and didn’t believe it was real. A few days later, she walked back in and tried again and was accepted. She shipped off to Newport, Rhode Island, as part of the last gender-segregated Officer Candidate School (WOS - Women’s Officer School) alongside five other women who had been accepted as part of this pioneer program.
Oslund, her husband, Captain Dwayne Oslund, USN (Ret.), and their friend, Captain Tom Pruter, USN (Ret.) joined aviators from NAS Whiting Field for events prior to the winging. They were welcomed on base by the stick display of all four of her trainer aircraft: the T-34, T-28, TH-57, and UH-1D.
Oslund put her more than 1,500 hours of flight time to the test, flying patterns at NOLF Imperial Beach and buzzing the tower of the aircraft carrier in the simulator for the Navy’s newest advanced helicopter trainer, the TH-73A Thrasher.
After a tour of the temporary hangar and a closer look at the TH-73A, Oslund met with nearly 40 aviators for a meet and greet at the monthly Female Aviator Network (FAN). The FAN aims to expand awareness about common challenges women face in the military through small group discussions, guest speakers, and resource sharing. Attendees ranged from Ensigns just checking in from initial flight school, NIFE, to lieutenant commanders on their second instructor tour.
Oslund quickly established commonalities with the younger ranks in the room, telling the story about how she forgot to raise the landing gear and close the canopy on her very first T-34 aircraft training event. She continued to tell some of her experiences in the T-28 aircraft, and about how the Navy had seemingly predetermined where the starting six women were going to go for their Fleet aircraft.
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CAPT JoEllen Drag-Oslund meets with members of TRAWING 5's Female Aviator Network (FAN). U.S. Navy Photo.
U.S. Code 10, Section 6015 was a federal law that was still in effect, restricting women from serving in combat and prohibiting women from being assigned aboard ships. Three of the women were to fly prop aircraft and the other three, to include Oslund, would fly helicopters; jets were not an option. Of note, one of the women selected to fly props was Rosemary Mariner, USN (Ret.), who eventually broke ground as the Navy’s first female jet pilot.
Oslund recalled her first helicopter flight, mentioning that it was the first flight where she knew helicopters were the right choice, and that she was truly meant for aviation. Her instructor hovered the TH-57, did a few clearing turns, and then pulled in a ton of power and went screaming down the runway while she stared directly at the ground in a seemingly extreme nose-low attitude. He brought the nose back for the climb-out and she experienced just how different helicopter flight is.
She successfully completed the TH-57 syllabus and went on to complete the Huey helicopter syllabus. Her father pinned her wings on at NAS Whiting Field in 1974, and she reported to HC-3 (Helicopter Combat Support Squadron) in San Diego, California, to qualify in the H-46. The expectation was that the original six women aviators would be assigned to squadrons that were shore based – Search and Rescue (SAR) Units or Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS)
Oslund was greeted head-on with the restrictions of Section 6015. Navy lawyers, or Judge Advocate General (JAG)s interpreted Section 6015 to include any shipboard movement and by law, Oslund was prohibited from flying deck landing qualifications (DLQs) or conducting vertical replenishment (VERTREP) or even circling the ship. She did not like the restrictions and submitted a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) via her chain of command, requesting exceptions to article 6015 to fully support the required mission of HC-3 so women were not restricted to flying around the helicopter pads at Navy Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Imperial Beach.
Her letter died off somewhere along the chain, whether purposeful or not, and she set out to challenge it legally via the ACLU and the D.C. District Court. As part of Owens vs. Brown, Oslund successfully challenged the federal restriction on female service aboard ships and went on to become the first Navy woman pilot to serve aboard a U.S. Navy ship.
In her five years of active service in the Navy, Oslund continued to shatter the ceiling by becoming the first Navy woman to be a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) Aircraft Commander with seven rescues of downed aviators under her belt. Six rescues were in open ocean and one in mountainous terrain. After active duty, she transferred to the Reserves where she served until retirement in 1998.
She summarized her comments to the FAN and the 33 wingers and their families with a simple charge to embrace change rather than resist it. In her remarks, she stated “I thought a long time about what meaningful remarks I might make to a group of young men and women who may not have been born when I retired from the Navy nearly 25 years ago. I finally decided to talk about something we have all experienced – change itself.”
Naval flight training has had its fair share of significant changes in the past few years: from navigating brand new syllabi, to figuring out a way to make production in the midst of a global pandemic, to integrating a brand new state of the art advanced helicopter trainer for the first time in nearly 65 years. Oslund encouraged both audiences to continue taking on challenges and change and echoed that if she or any of her five female peers had accepted resistance, Naval Aviation would likely not be where it is today.
She closed her keynote by saying, “A big part of your life and your career will depend on how you respond to change and how you make change happen. You will be called upon to anticipate change, evaluate change, analyze change, plan for change, and especially, implement change. And you will never have the luxury to ignore it or pretend it isn’t happening.”
CDR Michael Felber, Commanding Officer, HT-28, presented Captain Oslund with a plaque and squadron mug during the winging ceremony on Oct. 21 2022. Photo by LTJG Camila Healey,USN.
CAPT JoEllen Drag-Oslund, USN (Ret.) sits in a new TH-73A training helicopter simulator U.S. Navy photo
World Famous Vanguard of HM-14 Fly Final Flight!
By CDR Nicklaus Smith, USN
After nearly 45 years of service, flying the RH-53D and the MH-53E, the Vanguard are officially disestablishing in July 2023. The Sailors of HM-14 have served and flown on every continent in the world over their 45 year history, and have been a part of numerous critical military operations. With the Navy’s decision to develop and field new technologies and approaches to MCM, to include a family of manned and unmanned systems, the mighty MH-53E Sea Dragon is entering its final years of service.
HM-14 is the first of the Navy’s two operational MH-53E squadrons to disestablish, ending a run of 45 years of service to the country. Throughout its history, the squadron underwent numerous changes to its manning and structure and even introduced a new helicopter, but always remained steadfast to Norfolk, Virginia.
The tens of thousands of Sailors who called HM-14 home have served the community well, and many have permanently called Hampton Roads home. The final Sailors of HM-14 have finished strong over the last year few years, winning the Battle E Award in both 2020 and 2021.
“There is no greater honor than serving our fellow citizens of the USA, and doing it while maintaining and flying the world’s biggest and most powerful helicopter! We have so much fun doing what we do, and playing a small part in maintaining freedom in America and around the world!” said the final Skipper of HM-14, CDR Nicklaus “Cheddar Bob” Smith. “I’m so proud of all the Sailors of the Vanguard, both past and present, who have served with distinction. Our alumni have attained MCPON and Admiral, but I’m most proud of the young men and women who gave blood, sweat, and tears, in challenging environments across the world, and kept Big Iron flying!”
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TheWorld Famous Vanguard of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Fourteen (HM-14) flew the final flight of the squadron in Norfolk, Virginia on Dec. 8.
CDR Nicklaus “Cheddar Bob” Smith, Commanding Officer, HM-14, third from left, walks the flight line prior to the squadron’s last flight on Dec. 8, 2022.
Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey
Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Connor Fenwick, foreground, assigned to the “Vanguard” of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 (HM14), cleans the windshield of an MH53 “Sea Dragon” helicopter prior to the squadron’s last flight on Dec. 8, 2022.
Sailors assigned to the “Vanguard” of HM-14 posed for a photo in front of an MH-53 “Sea Dragon” helicopter prior to the squadron’s last flight on Dec. 8, 2022. Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey.
Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey.
70 Years as the Standard: A World Famous Anniversary
By LT Alex “CRItR” Hosko, USN
TheWorld Famous Golden Falcons are synonymous with Naval Rotary Wing Aviation. The U.S. Navy is celebrating 100 Years of Carrier Aviation and the Golden Falcons have been here for the last 70 years as the oldest continuously operating helicopter squadron in the Navy. Established March 7th, 1952 on the 1,200 acre concrete patch that we know as Navy Outlying Field (NOLF) Imperial Beach, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron TWO (HS-2) was the Navy’s first West Coast helicopter squadron with the primary mission of anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Comprised of 258 Sailors and 39 Officers. The squadron utilized 17 Sikorsky HRS-2 for small detachments that culminated with HS-2 becoming the first ASW squadron to deploy on a WESTPAC in April 1953. With the increased capability that rotary wing aviation brings to the fight, the mission “asks” continue to expand beyond its humble beginnings.
As time went on, the Golden Falcons saw the introduction of the SH-34J and then Sikorsky’s SH-3A “Sea King,” later becoming the first squadron to deploy with this “Big Mother." Using Sikorsky’s modern technology, the Golden Falcons became the first squadron to operationally employ HIFR at night and recorded the longest operational flight at the time, 11 hours and 18 minutes, while conducting a search and rescue mission in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Throughout history, the Golden Falcons have taken full advantage of their multi-mission capability. The 1960’s consisted of rescues in Northern California floods, recovery of the Apollo Saturn 202 Command and Service Module, and a shift to Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) in North Vietnam. The Golden Falcons were the first Navy helicopter squadron to support CSAR, a mission we maintain today, providing an organic asset within the carrier strike group to support this mission. In 1967 alone, with the Vietnam War still in full swing, the Golden Falcons were responsible for ten overland and five coastal water rescues of Naval Aviators.
In 1970, HS-2 conducted operations in Amman, Jordan for the evacuation of U.S. citizens and to provide a CSAR asset for the Battle Group. It was during 1970 that HS-2’s signature American flag appeared on the aircraft. The flags were painted overnight so the helicopters could be distinguished from the Israeli H-3s. To commemorate the event, the Chief of Naval Operations uniquely authorized the flags to become a permanent part of HS-2's paint scheme. Today, the American Flag still is proudly displayed on the fuselage of each aircraft in the Golden Falcon inventory.
HS-2 led the way in modern airborne anti-submarine warfare onboard the aircraft carrier when transitioning to the SH-60F and HH-60H in 1990. Flying these airframes, the Golden Falcons deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and conducted NSW missions in the beginning days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 2000’s continued, and once again, the World Famous Golden Falcons were called into action. During their time aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), the Golden Falcons provided humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) after a deadly tsunami shook the Aceh Province of Sumatra, Indonesia. For their efforts, HS-2 was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.
In May 2009, the Golden Falcons transitioned to the modern era of Carrier Air Wing Aviation by accepting their first MH-60S and in the process becoming Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron HSC. Although now a new number, the spirit and ethos remained the same as HSC-12 became the first forward deployed carrier-based MH-60S squadron integrating into Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Five. Embarked aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), the Golden Falcons conducted a historic homeport move from the beautiful sunshine of Southern California to the bustling suburbs just west of Tokyo, Japan.
In the past decade as a Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF), the Golden Falcons have remained busy and steadfast. 2015 brought a hull swap to our current home, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the World Famous Golden Falcons through new challenges in 2020 with what became the longest patrol by an aircraft carrier out of Japan since 1999. The Golden Falcon spirit never broke. That formidable cruise was followed by a historic pivot to 5th Fleet for a five month 2021 deployment with no port calls when America’s “First to Fight” Carrier Strike Group was asked to support Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Allies Refuge during the final days of the war in Afghanistan. In those short five months, HSC-12 supported 35 live roping operations, 72 integrated operations, 33 internal cargo missions, and 45 logistic sorties resulting in the movement of 5 million pounds of critical equipment and supplies. Out of the 35 live roping operations, the most notable was HSC-12’s short-fused mission to insert Explosive Ordnance Demolition (EOD) personnel aboard Mercer Street, an oil tanker struck by a UAV off the coast of Oman, killing two of its crew members. Their quick action and precise execution led to the successful support and care of Mercer Street and their crew.
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Today, the World Famous Golden Falcons continue to deploy annually aboard USS Ronald Reagan and man Detachment One, the primary executive transport for Commander 7th Fleet (C7F) operations ashore and aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). HSC-12, along with CVW-5, is the bastion of a free Indo-Pacific. We continue strategic relations with allies in the region in the form of exercises such as Keen Sword, Talisman Saber, Valiant Shield, and most recently, the Republic of Korea’s Maritime Counter-Special Operation Forces Exercise (MCSOFEX). MCSOFEX was unique in the fact that this was the first time HSC-12 provided two spectrums of support to complete the mission. One stemming from Detachment 1in the form of an Expeditionary Advanced Base Operation (EABO) at Camp Mujuk in Pohang, South
Korea while the main body upheld their end of the mission from aboard CVN 76. The completion of this mission showed that Carrier-Based HSC squadrons can exercise Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) to implement and integrate an expeditionary asset that supports a larger naval campaign.
The HSC Community continues to react to the present need, add capability as a force multiplier within our Carrier Strike Groups, and evolve to an ever changing tactical and political world. In a world full of uncertainty, one thing is for certain - where there is Naval Rotary Wing Aviation there will be the World Famous Golden Falcons.
HT-28 Hellions Reinvigorate Military Partnerships
By John Richards
Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) provides U.S. international allies, friends, and partners the opportunity to participate in our professional Naval Aviation Training Program. On November 18th, 2022, the HT-28 Hellions of Training Air Wing Five (TW-5) in Pensacola, FL winged 1LT Alaeddin Kamel, from Algiers, Algeria. 1LT Kamel is a pilot for the Algerian National Navy and is HT-28’s second Algerian Student Naval Aviator to complete advanced rotary training at TW-5 through the U.S. Navy’s International Military Sales (IMS) Program.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, training for all of our IMS students decreased in recent years. In fact, it has been nearly four years since an Algerian IMS student winged at TW-5. Despite these delays, both the United States Navy and CNATRA’s international participants remained committed to the flight training program and continued their cooperative training. Over the course of 3 total years of aeronautical curriculum and flight training, including 11 arduous months at HT-28, 1LT Kamel’s journey culminated with wings of gold pinned upon his chest.
The Hellions are excited to strengthen our relationship with Algeria and other U.S. partners. We currently have students from Italy and Saudi Arabia working their way through the flight syllabus. We’re all very proud of 1LT Kamel’s accomplishment. Thanks to his hard work, skill, and dedication to the program, we know that he’ll be a valuable asset to the Algerian National Navy and we wish him well as he travels back to Algeria for the first time in three years.
The Dream Machine by Richard
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Richard Whittle’s book is a historical compendium of the difficult and troubled development of an aircraft based on new aerodynamic concepts and technology. His encyclopedic work pulls no punches noting that the Osprey is a bird born from a bloodbath of accidents and a torrent of political and public criticism. He dedicates the book to the thirty Marines and civilians who gave their lives in the development of the V-22 Osprey.
Whittle is a noted military and aviation author and journalist. His meticulous investigation takes us on a fifty-plus year journey from Bell’s first tiltrotor, the XV-3 in 1951, to the V-22’s combat introduction in Iraq in 2007. The journey takes us through a process of continually pushing a new and advanced aircraft concept forward even though, at times, it was not ready. He starts with a brief history of Bell Helicopters, tracing the tiltrotor’s origins back to the Focke-Wulf FW-61 and progressing through intermediate designs to the Bell XV3, complete with aviation pioneer innovators from Gerard Herrick to Arthur Young. Into the story comes young aeronautical engineer and prime motivator of the project, Dick Spivey–it’s his dream machine. In his words, “the aircraft takes off like a helicopter, flies like an airplane.”
Spivey’s passion takes him from the drafting table into marketing with a unique ability to sell the tiltrotor, resulting in the XV-15 concept demonstrator in 1977. Several events happen over the next few years to put the Marines in the driver’s seat of V-22 development. The first is Operation Eagle Claw and the Desert One mishap in 1980. The author’s depiction of Desert One is the most in-depth and detailed account that I’ve ever read. The Tiltrotor advocates use the mishap as a selling point, in that it would not have happened with tiltrotor aircraft. The next event is the XV-15’s amazing performance at the 1981 Paris Air Show, which sells the tiltrotor concept to aviation. The next event is the Marines’ predicament. They need a replacement for the H-46, an assault support asset that will carry 24 Marines “faster and farther,” which becomes Spivey’s new motto.
The Joint Vertical Lift Experimental (JVX) Program is commissioned to find a Joint Services Vertical Lift Experimental Aircraft. The only companies to submit a final proposal are the Bell/Boeing team. The new aircraft was set to incorporate the latest, state-of-the-art components and fly-by-wire controls. The Marines set the requirements and specifications, almost killing the project at birth with the requirement to operate off amphibious assault ships. The ship requirements put size, wing-fold, and weight restrictions on the design that the companies constantly struggled to overcome. Bell and Boeing are almost complete opposites in philosophies, with locations a thousand miles apart. Despite their soap-opera drama differences, they eventually come to a 50-50 agreement where Bell will handle engines, nacelles, proprotors, and wings while Boeing does fuselage, landing gear, hydraulics, and fly-by-wire controls.
Construction is just part of the problem, with an even bigger struggle arising from funding, politics, and a host of military and civilian detractors trying to kill the project. The Army and the Air Force are even becoming less enthused. The Marines, desperate to move the project along, finally push it out to Hollywood level acclaim, complete with a fake Corps paint job in 1988 even though it won’t fly for another year.
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SECDEF is an adamant opponent, determined to kill the 22, telling the Marines they can make do with Blackhawks. The Corps pushes back, knowing if they’re forced to use Blackhawks, it could kill their stand-alone-service image, making them look like a part of the Army. They need the 22 and they’re determined to get it. The first bird gets into the air in ’89, going through successful LHD ship ops in ’90. The first accident occurs at the Bell plant with ship #5 going out of control as it lifts into a hover. No one was injured but the aircraft was a complete loss, the mishap blamed on a faulty flight control system. Media coverage results in bad publicity, fueling project opposition. NAVAIR downs all the 22’s until the aircraft gets a complete makeover from fuselage design and construction to flight control software. The improved prototype is back and flying in early ’92. Tragedy strikes a second time in July as the aircraft is pushed on a nonstop flight from the Bell plant to Quantico for a promotional presentation. A chain-reaction system failure progresses from engine fire to hydraulic and flight control loss with the aircraft crashing and sinking into the Potomac River. Four Bell employees and three Marines are lost.
A changing political environment gives the program a reprieve and a billion-plus contract for four new and improved birds. Fixing what caused the Potomac mishap along with upgraded engines, beefed up transmissions, a new wing fold mechanism, improved throttle control, and glass cockpit. We progress eight years through politics, opposition, and funding issues to ’99 as the 22 goes into Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). NAVAIR reduces mission requirements and compresses the schedule to meet a 2001 full rate production date. Everyone is in a hurry to push OPEVAL which requires doing mission related operations carrying marines. East Coast ship evaluations run into significant supply delays, but the program pushes to the West Coast for assault evaluations at San Clemente Island and desert operations at MCAS Yuma. Tragedy strikes a third blow on a night approach to an outlying field at Marana, Arizona. A section wingman loses control on short final, flipping over and plowing inverted into the desert floor. Nineteen Marines perish. Amazingly, OPEVAL doesn’t cease. Investigation reveals that the aircraft was being flown outside of its limitations with a tail wind, and vortex ring state (VRS) of the right proprotor was suspected of causing an uncontrollable right roll. Marine Headquarters decided that they could save $50M and shorten OPEVAL if they didn’t do some of the planned tests, including those for high rates of descent.
Despite the Yuma tests finding numerous discrepancies in actuators and hydraulics, NAVAIR says the 22 passed OPEVAL and moves it to the next acceptance phase, Osprey Training Squadron operations at MCAS New River. It’s eight months later when Crossbow 8 takes off on a routine night training flight, crashing on return to the field from compound hydraulic failures aggravated by flight control computer problems. Four Marines are killed. Two fatal mishaps within
eight months then leads the Commandant to have doubts and the News Show “60 Minutes” to do an investigative report. The program is completely stopped pending JAG and Mishap Board reports as well as a Blue Ribbon Commission being established. The JAG and Mishap reports fault Bell and Boeing for manufacturing discrepancies and NAVAIR for not catching them. The Commission makes 71 recommendations to fix the aircraft and production situation and resolve autorotation ability and VRS susceptibility, but finds no flaws in the tiltrotor concept.
SECDEF puts the program back on track pending resolution of the Commission’s recommendations. Additionally, SECNAV directs Bell and Boeing to move their Osprey offices to Pax River so company and NAVAIR engineers can work together. The 22 gets a second makeover with flight test results showing the aircraft less susceptible to VRS than a comparable helicopter, and autorotation is removed as a requirement. A new evaluation squadron is established to complete a second OPEVAL which wraps up in 2005 with the Osprey approved for full rate production. VMM-263 takes the 22 into combat in Iraq in 2007, successfully completing a seven month mishap-free deployment. Dick Spivey’s comments sum it up saying that the Osprey’s problems were not due to concept or engineering, but rather to the machinery of the DOD procurement process. He had no doubt that the tiltrotor would change the world. Perhaps he’s right, looking at the Leonardo AW609 and Bell V-280 Valor as examples.
My review only gives you the highlights of a 400-plus page accounting complete with detailed chapter notes, bibliography, and index. Richard Whittle’s writing style is clear and narrative-based rather than cut and dry documentation, with in-depth character development and event analysis. The mishap descriptions are in vivid detail with word for word cockpit and controller conversations, made even more impactful knowing that these are real people. Even though the V-22 has matured a lot over the past 15 years, Whittle’s investigation is a must read for those interested in the process and travails of aircraft development and procurement. The author’s words leave us with this thought: “Progress often depends on dreamers, especially in aviation. Whoever sets out to conquer the air just has to have a dream. It comes with the territory.” The Dream Machine is no light read, but it is extremely well written and thorough. I give it five stars and two thumbs up. It’s in the NHA Library; check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Ichose this movie because it dovetails with the book, The Dream Machine in that the Desert One incident was one of the case studies referenced for proponents of the V-22 Osprey. Desert One is a historical documentary produced and directed by academy award winning documentarian, Barbara Kopple, and released in 2020 on the 40th anniversary of the incident. The movie is an account of Operation Eagle Claw and the circumstances surrounding Desert One during an aborted attempt to rescue 52 American hostages being held in Tehran, Iran in 1980.
The film starts with introductions to the key players and the situation: President Carter, the Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, and what brings them all together. When the extremely unpopular Shah is given permission by Carter to come to New York City for cancer treatment in 1979, revolutionaries overrun Iran and bring Khomeini back into the country to rule Iran as an Islamic state. The American Embassy is overrun with 66 American staff, Marine guards, and employees taken hostage. Khomeini agrees to release 14 with 52 remaining, threatening to kill all of them if there is any military attempt to rescue them.
Carter is adamant to resolve the situation by negotiation. However, when it looks like Khomeini is going to refuse any attempts to negotiate, Carter agrees to the idea of a rescue mission. We're introduced to Army Colonel Charlie Beckwith and the Delta Force he created in 1975. Operation Eagle Claw is formulated for Delta Force to rescue the hostages. They need USAF C-130s and Navy RH-53s to make the plan work. The film covers the intricacies of the two day plan to get into the embassy, get the hostages, and get out of Iran. The plan is complex with lots of moving parts. One key component is fuel. The embassy is in Tehran, almost 900 miles from the Gulf of Oman where the 53s will be launched from. They will need to refuel. Aerial refueling is out of the question, so a land refueling will have to take place to accomplish the mission. They decide on an isolated dry lakebed in central Iran over 400 miles from the launch point. The location is designated Desert One. It becomes the Achilles heel of the mission.
Carter gives the rescue mission a green light to go. The C-130s pick up Col. Beckwith and the 123 man Delta Force in southern Egypt then fly to Oman for final refueling and preparations before leaving for the Desert One rendezvous. Before the 130s takeoff, eight H-53s under the command of USMC Col. Ed Seiffert were launched at dusk from the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in the Gulf of Oman. Mission planning determined that a minimum of six 53s are needed to successfully complete the rescue. Shortly after crossing into Iran, one of the 53s gets a main rotor blade failure caution light. They land, determine that it's legitimate and return to the Nimitz. The weather is great initially, but they encounter a haboob dust storm enroute. The talcum powder fine dust
interferes with cockpit instruments and avionics causing one of the pilots to get vertigo to the point that a return to Nimitz was necessary. The 53s are down to the bare minimum of six. Meanwhile, the 130s have arrived at Desert One. An Iranian family in a bus happens upon the 130s. The bus is stopped, and the family held with the intent of flying them out on the 130s to be returned to Iran later. A truck then comes down the road and is taken out by an anti-tank round when it won’t stop. The truck turns out to be a gasoline tanker that explodes in a giant fire lighting up the place. The driver jumps out and into another truck behind it, rapidly driving away from the 130s without being stopped.
The 53s arrive about an hour later. They start refueling, but one of the 53s has a failing flight control hydraulic pump and Col. Seiffert downs the bird. With the mission down to five 53s, Col.Beckwith is forced to recommend aborting the mission. The word is passed back to POTUS who orders to abort the mission. As one of the 53s is repositioning, the blowing dirt and sand disorients the ground controller and pilot causing it to drift into one of the C-130s, the crash igniting both aircraft in a fireball. The resulting inferno kills five of the Air Force crew in the 130 and three Marines in the 53. Everyone gets into the C-130s and flies out leaving five 53s and the burning 53/130 crash behind.
The family being held hostage is returned to their bus, and it’s disabled before the last 130 leaves. The dead servicemen’s bodies are taken back to Tehran and put on display for international news media before they are returned. Carter continues negotiations despite losing the 1980 presidential election to Reagan, reaching an agreement to return the hostages, but not until he’s out of office.
Today, the Desert One site is fenced off and enshrined. The mission failure is celebrated annually in Iran as a victory over the Americans. The members of the task force hold reunions. In a closing shot at a recent reunion, a C-130 accompanied by two V-22s flies over the ceremony. Final words on the end credits are, “Thank you to those on the mission for having the guts to try.” My review only covers the highlights of the mission and the mishap, there is much more covering the politics, the joint task force training, and the hostages themselves before and after the incident. This is an emotionally hard movie to watch. However, I recommend it, if only for the historical context highlighting the complexities of geopolitical military operations. In the words of philosopher and poet George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” You can see the movie on ROKU so check it out.
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In this issue "Mastering the Machine, " tactics, techniques, procedures, and technology have all developed immensely since the beginning of rotary wing aviation. We develop with the times, technological advancements, and to the adversary we are facing to name a few contributing factors.
What groundbreaking advancements have you seen in your time? How have you seen mission sets develop over the course of your career? Where do you see room for improvement in how we operate today?
From: LCDR Reed Carr, USNR (Ret.)
In 1961, I'm flying a HUP-3 (H-25) across West Texas to deliver it to Helicopter Utility Squadron One (HU-1), Ream Field, flying under the cloud cover, about 75 ft, when I inadvertently enter the clouds. It's terrifying, as the HUP is unstable. Soon my crewman says, “we've lost the forward transmission,” as oil poured onto the leg of his flight suit. Suddenly, in front of us is the ground, we're heading down. I do a quick pull up, set the helo down, and we secure it, walk a half of a mile back on the road, and spend the night in Kent, TX. We had (I had) dumped the nose enough that the pan under the transmission had spilled all over my crewman. It was an unnerving experience, flying an unstable machine, inadvertently entering the clouds, recovering control, and landing safely.
From: CAPT Doug Yesensky, USN (Ret.)
Let us not forget..."flying the beast." I investigated several aerial accidents in my time and "pilot error" often sounded loud and clear.
From: Col Howard Whitfield, USMC (Ret.), former Executive Director of NHA 2000-2012
My first squadron was HMM-361. We were based at MCAH Tustin, California in one of the blimp hangars. We had 24 UH-34Ds. We were anticipating orders to South Vietnam, but we were interrupted by the Cuban Missile Crisis. We were ordered to deploy out of San Diego aboard the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). We sailed down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, and sat off of Haiti preparing for a possible assault of Cuba. Thankfully it didn't occur as casualties were estimated to be high. After the squadron returned to Tustin, we intensified our flight training, flying various simulated assault missions. Our skipper got a kick out of calling El Toro Tower that he was inbound with a helicopter flight of 24 UH-34s!
We deployed to South Vietnam in 1963 on a KC-135 out of El Toro, stopping in Hawaii to refuel, and then Cubi Point, PI. After a few days, we were flown to DaNang, South Vietnam aboard a Marine KC-130. At the time, there were no jet aircraft operating north of Saigon due to runway limitations and very few other aircraft. The squadron was billeted in an old French Base about a mile from the runway. Our UH-34s had been delivered by a sister squadron which rotated back to Cubi Point. We were only in South Vietnam a few weeks when the U.S. Air Force lost a T-28 on a mission west near Laos. We launched two UH-34s with a rescue crew at dusk. The two UH-34s didn't return, and our skipper flew out to the area the T-28 went down the next day and searched. He located remains of the two UH-34s next to a steep river gorge. My skipper came back and initiated a rescue/recovery mission with Vietnamese troops and U.S. special forces. We lost four pilots. two aircrew, a flight surgeon, and a corpsman. The recovery was difficult because of dense jungle and just a small island to land on in the river.
The next time I went to South Vietnam in 1969, I was flying CH-46s and the war had totally changed. The squadron I joined was at Quang Tri, 15 miles south of the DMZ.
Next Radio Check Question:
No legends started out that way and most never intended to be legends at all. Some are world renown, while others are only recognized in their own spheres of influence.
Who are those individuals that made our naval rotary wing community what it is today? What qualities make a legend? Have the qualities we value in those we hold at the highest regard changed over the years? Who are our modern-day legends and how do they differ from our legends of the past?
We want to hear from you! Please send your responses to the Rotor Review Editor-in-Chief at the email address listed below.
LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen Editor-in-Chief, Rotor Review email@example.com
Radio Check www.navalhelicopterassn.org 73
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 74 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators December 2, 2022 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators December 16, 2022 Congratulations to the next generation of Naval Aviation warfighters who received their Wings of Gold at NAS Whiting Field. These aviators will move to the Fleet to learn their designated platforms.
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 75 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators October 21, 2022 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators November 18, 2022
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-3
December 9, 2022
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-2
December 14, 2022
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(From left to right) AWS3 Ethan Andalman, USN; AWS3 Richard Cecil, USN; AWS3 Joaqin Nunez, USN; AWS3 Kylar Savage, USN
Naval Helicopter Association
NHA is your professional organization to connect and network you within the Rotary Wing / Tiltrotor Community throughout your career (USN/USMC/USCG).
It is all about maki ng and preserving lifelong friendships and creating opportunity through active mentorship.
As an NHA Member, you can participate in national and regional events to include an Annual Symposium and Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In / NHA Join-Up.
These events promote professional development as well as camaraderie by bringing together active duty / retired military leaders and operators with industry to discuss current challenges and create a vision for the future.
MEMBER BENEFITS: PERSONALIZED ACCOUNT ON NHA WEBSITE, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, NETWORKING, MENTORING, TRANSITION ASSISTANCE, DIGITAL ROTOR REVIEW MAGAZINE, SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY, & MORE.
Consider joining NHA as a Lifetime Member for the Enlisted rate of just $300.00.
A great deal now & smart investment in your career!
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Stop by & see us sometime aboard Naval Base Coronado! We are next to the Uniform Shop ( Bldg 654 Rogers Road)
CAPT Dick Catone, USN (Ret.) following a memorial service for a fellow helicopter pilot, is credited with the following statement: “I guess we are all in the starboard delta waiting for Signal Charlie.” Starboard Delta is the holding pattern for the airborne Search and Rescue helicopters on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft carrier. They fly at a low altitude so as not to interfere with the fixed-wing aircraft recovery pattern, and only land when the last fixed-wing aircraft is safe on board. When tower calls the helicopter to pass “Charlie” to a landing spot, the crew knows the fixed-wing recovery is complete, all is well, and it is time to come back. Hence, the statement appears appropriate that someday we will receive our own “Signal Charlie” and will be called home for a final landing.
Signal Charlie has been created to inform our membership and honor the passing of fellow unrestricted aviators. It is only as good as the information we receive. If you have an obituary or other information that you would like to provide concerning the passing of a shipmate, co-worker, or friend of the community, please contact the NHA National Office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get the word out.
CAPT George Conaway, USNR became a Naval Aviator on November 22, 1972 at HT-18, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Fl. He was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-12353. George Timlin “Tim” Conaway, Jr., 74, of West Chester, PA passed away unexpectedly on November 16, 2022.
Tim was born in 1948 in Philadelphia, PA. He was the son of the late George Timlin, Sr. and Edna (née Hunley) Conaway. He was a retired Navy Captain who served his country for 30 years as a pilot. He enjoyed flying airplanes and helicopters, sailing, and golfing with friends. In his civilian life, he ran a sales organization in the packaging industry where he met many friends and colleagues. Upon retiring Tim spent his time volunteering and serving as the Executive Director of the American Helicopter Museum continuing his passion for aviation. Tim was a loving husband, proud father and devoted Pop to his 12 grandchildren, who he enjoyed spending time with every chance he got. Those who knew Tim, know that he always had a smile on his face and a drink in his hand.
Tim was the beloved husband of 52 years to Carol (née Winter) Conaway; loving father of Meghan K. Gillmor (Steve), Melissa A. Teti (Chris), Meredith W. Gatt (Jon), Matthew Timlin Conaway (Erin), proud Pop to his grandchildren, who meant the world to him: Logan, Chase, Max, Kaden, Addison, Emilie, Ronan, Ryan, Connor, Sean, Luke and Vivian; dear brother of Georgeann Muia (Jim) and Gail Kilmartin (Tom), and also survived by many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Helicopter Museum, 1220 American Blvd., West Chester, PA 19380 (https://americanhelicopter.museum/donations/).
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 78
CAPT George Conaway, USNR
LT Alfred J. Banford, Jr.,USNR
Alfred Joseph Banford, Jr. was born in Salem County, New Jersey on June 16, 1940 and died peacefully on November 2, 2022 surrounded by his family (Al, Andy, AJ, Mr. Dennison, Uncle Al, and when in Italy, Alfredo, a man with many names, who was truly one of a kind).
A 1962 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, AJ took his commission in the U.S. Navy and served a combat tour in South Vietnam flying Huey gunships for the Navy Seawolves of HAL 3. Among his many military honors, AJ received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal and three Purple Hearts. After serving six years in the US Navy, AJ moved to Incline Village and worked for Boise Cascade. During the 1970’s, he formed Silver Pine Homes, a modular home manufacturer and contractor based in Stead, Nevada.
In 1975, Banford accepted a position as an advisor to the Saudi Arabia National Guard. Returning to Incline Village in 1976, AJ became a principal and general manager of the North Shore Club Casino. After selling the casino in 1979, he and his partners bought Captain Jon’s Restaurant and the Tahoe Vista Marina. In the same year he formed The Radford Company, a full service, independent mortgage company based in Incline Village which he owned and operated for 43 years. As a three-time wounded warrior, he volunteered his service as a counsellor for the VA’s PTSD Rehab Program in Reno and was a member of the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Veterans Club.
AJ is survived by his wife, Karen Dennison, his cousin, Margie Goodier (John), his brother-in-law Bob Hodges and a loving extended family. He was preceded in death by his mother, Elizabeth L. Brown, his father, Alfred J. Banford Sr., his sister, Susan Hodges, and his nephew, Andy Allen.
AJ was known for his irreverent wit, his generosity and his “larger than life” personality. He was an avid reader, an excellent cook, loved to travel to Maui and Italy and spend summers at Incline Beach. He looked forward to his daily coffee group fondly known as the OG’s (Old Guys).
A celebration of life will be held at the Chateau in Incline Village at a later date. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Veterans Club, c/o The Incline Village Recreation Center, 980 Incline Way, Incline Village, NV 89451 (Attn: Jennifer Moore).
Thom Bernsen, USNR became a Naval Aviator on July 29, 1971 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson field, Pensacola. ENS Bernsen was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-11731.
It is with great sadness that the family of CAPT Thomas J. Bernsen, Jr., USN (Ret.), announces the passing of their beloved husband, father, grandfather, and stalwart veteran of the HS Community, on January 3, 2023.
Born December 13, 1948 in St. Louis, MO, he grew up in a sailing family in Long Beach, CA. After graduating from CSU Long Beach with a BA in Mathematics, Thom dedicated his life to serving his country as a Navy helicopter pilot and test pilot.
Sea assignments included HS-2 in Imperial Beach, California involving service aboard USS Enterprise in HS-2 Det One, Vietnam. Highlights include numerous rescues during Operation Linebacker II and later being a primary pilot for the initial flights into North Vietnam during Operation End Sweep to negotiate de-mining Haiphong Harbor. Captain Bernsen served as a department head with HS-8, on staff with CVW-15, and commanded HS-4 aboard USS Carl Vinson in WestPac. Ashore, Captain Bernsen attended the US Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD and later became Director of the Test Pilot School and Commanding Officer of the Systems Engineering Test Directorate there. Notable projects included primary Test Pilot for the initial test article of the SH-60B Seahawk. Captain Bernsen retired from FASOTRAGRUPAC at NAS North Island on June 30, 1994 after 26 years in uniform.
Captain Bernsen’s post Navy positions included being a Director for Horizons Technology Inc., Senior Director SAIC Corporation, COO for National Dispatch Center, Inc. in San Diego, and owner/operator of Dryer Vent Wizard, all while cultivating his love for German sports cars.
Thom was a devoted husband and a proud father and grandfather. Thom and Linda made their home in Point Loma, CA where they enjoyed many happy years together. He was known for his sharp mind, quick wit, keen sense of humor, and ability to find the silver lining in any situation. He was an avid sailor and loved nothing more than being out on the water, a calling he passed on to his two children, Eric and Lauren. Thom was a master of the deadpan and could keep a straight face even when delivering the corniest of dad-jokes. He was as sharp as a naval officer’s sword and could express an entire conversation through a single look.
Thom will be deeply missed by all who knew him, but his memory will live on in the hearts of his family and friends. Thom is survived by his wife, Linda, children, Eric and Lauren, and four grandchildren, Charlie, Havana, Jack, and Zoe.
A celebration of Thom’s life, complete with humorous anecdotes and tall tales of heroism will be held at a later date when known. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Thom’s memory to the Semper Fi Fund or Disabled American Veterans.
The memorial is scheduled for Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary, Point Loma, San Diego, 1415 (2:15PM) on Thursday, February 9, 2023. For full details click on the EverLoved link, https://everloved.com/life-of/thomas-bernsen/. RSVP’s via EverLoved webpage. Reception to follow at the Thursday Club, on Santa Barbara Ave. For purposes of condolences contact: Linda Bernsen, 2668 Narcissus Dr., San Diego, CA 92106 (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fair winds and following seas, Pappy.
Rotor Review #159 Winter '23 80
CAPT Thomas J. Bernsen, Jr., USN (Ret.)
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