"We started in the fall of 2012 by sending certain aviators to the "F" model qualification course," said Army Capt. Charles Eslinger, B Co. commander. "The remainder of our force left on Jan. 8 to complete the Net Fielding Training on our five new Chinooks."
The two-month qualification course, wrapping up March 8, is conducted by a mobile training team that moves the upgraded helicopters to the training site and oversees the hands on training, Eslinger said. The unit personnel have signed for the aircraft at the training site and are now becoming familiar with the equipment. They will ultimately fly the upgraded Chinooks back to the Army Aviation Support Facility in St. Cloud.
"It's pretty neat because they're getting flight time, signing for and inventorying the Chinooks and doing maintenance training on them," Eslinger said. "Most units, when they get new aircraft, they don't get the opportunity to train in an organized training environment."
One of the largest differences between the two models is the cockpit's new multifunctional display, which consists of five 8-inch by 5-inch monitors, Eslinger said. The digitalized system, which replaces all old gauges and systems information displays found in the "D" model, shows advanced avionics and navigations systems and allows the pilots to page through different information displays.
"It's almost information overload at first when going from the 'D' cockpit to the 'F' cockpit, but overall it enhances the pilot's situational awareness" Eslinger said.
Another upgrade is the addition of the flight director system, which can be coupled with the aircraft systems to take control and execute the flight plan while the pilots manipulate and monitor the aircraft's performance, he said.
"Essentially, we enter the information and the system takes these parameters that we want on the flight - altitude, airspeed, waypoints, etc. - and flies these parameters when the system is engaged," Eslinger said. "It is an incredible capability to see the aircraft respond to the digital inputs right before our eyes without us directly changing the controls."
The "F" model also boasts several significant structural upgrades, Eslinger said. In addition to enhanced engine mounts and sheet metal features, the Chinook's rear pylon has been upgraded to shorten the disassembly and reassembly time required to move the Chinook helicopters to theaters around the world.
"Normally when we move and ship the aircraft, it takes us almost a full day," Eslinger said. "Now we can do it much faster - within hours."
Though the two-month school will make all of the unit's Soldiers proficient and qualified to operate and maintain the "F" model, training won't stop when they return from Fort Stewart, Eslinger said.
"After spinning up our guys, we're going to start flying on a regular basis to completely transition from 'D' to 'F,'" he said. "Our mission will be to become proficient with the Foxtrot, which will take some time. We'll have to come up with different operating procedures and learn how to utilize the different features of the aircraft."
Eslinger said he anticipates comprehensive training flights to take place during the unit's 2013 annual training at Camp Ripley in June.
The area was hit last year by disastrous flooding that destroyed many of the homes and farms. The closest dam broke, leaving the area under many feet of water and nearly everyone stranded and forced to evacuate.
The Office of Defense Cooperation and Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program helped provide labor, supplies and the people for communities in need all over the world. For this particular project, more than 30 Minnesota National Guardsmen have joined forces with their Croatian counterparts to rebuild the roof of the community center in less than three weeks.
According to tcpride.org, "Twin Cities Pride is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Minnesota corporation that brings the greater LGBT community together to commemorate our diverse heritage, foster inclusion, educate and create awareness of issues, and celebrate achievements in equality."
For many onlookers at the festival, there was an element of surprise with the Minnesota National Guard's presence, but it didn't take long for the outpouring of appreciation and support from the community.
"While my gunner is firing on a target, my tank commander is engaging a truck using his .50 cal., and I see rounds flying from our wingman who's engaging a tank way out there," said Spc. Ted Coy, an Abrams driver with 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment. "Seeing all the tracer rounds cross while our platoon is firing at different targets at the same time is one of the coolest things I've ever seen."
The gunnery and maneuver exercise that Coy and his platoon conducted was one of the many integrated training events the 1st ABCT has been conducting during its Exportable Combat Training Capabilities exercises - a training period spanning from May 2015 to August 2015.
Posted: 2015-06-26 01:34 PM RACINOVIC, Croatia - The hobbies of a National Guardsman can become wildly different between the Military Occupational Specialty a Service member holds compared with 'real life' or what they do with their time outside of drill weekends.
Spc. Brita Hensel's days as a masonry specialist in the 851st Vertical Engineer Company may be few, but her passion and drive for service is something that shows, whether she is drilling or not.
Driven by a desire to travel she recently volunteered for a trip to a small town in Croatia as a part of the Minnesota National Guard's state partnership program to help rebuild a community center. She is a military-trained carpenter, but when she isn't building she is baking or cooking up a new recipe.