SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Flight crews from 1-228th Aviation Regiment conducted deck landing qualifications on the USS Rentz off the coast of Honduras, February 8-10.
The training, which took place approximately 70 miles off the Honduran coast, was done to qualify 1-228th Aviation Regiment pilots and crew chiefs on shipboard operations.
"This was a great and unique training opportunity that most Army Aviators don't get the chance to do. It's important because it not only builds experience amongst our crews but also drastically increases Joint Task Force-Bravo's capabilities," said U.S. Army Capt. Fernando Martinez, 'A' Company Commanding Officer. "We now have multiple crews qualified to conduct operations that could be necessary in the event of a humanitarian disaster or even a counter drug operation, which are two key missions we could be called upon to complete in this area of operations."
The training was conducted using two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. The crews qualified first during the day, completing five landings each for initial day qualifications. Later that evening, a select number of crew members returned to the USS Rentz to qualify under night vision goggles. In all, 20 pilots and 15 crew chiefs went through the training.
"It was a very challenging experience shooting an approach to a ship that is pitching and rolling in the ocean. The difficulty escalates quickly when you are trying to land on a moving object in the middle of the ocean," said Army U.S. Army Capt. Antony Vargas, a pilot assigned to 1-228th Aviation Regiment. "With just enough room to safely land a single helicopter, there is very little room for error. You really have to use all available references to be successful. It was great training and I look forward to the opportunity to do it again very soon."
The 1-228th Aviation Regiment provides general aviation support for Joint Task Force-Bravo, to include medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) support, counter drug operations, and humanitarian/disaster relief operations throughout Central America. The unit trains regularly with other assets in the region to remain proficient in all aspects of their mission.