Chinooks Take Flight from SJAFB

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Among an airfield full of fighter jets and refuelers, two U.S. Army CH-47F Chinooks arrived at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, on June 18, 2021. Chinooks are multipurpose helicopters capable of supporting almost any mission from transportation to combat support.

The Chinooks returned from downrange after three years in service. The blades and rotors, among other components, were removed downrange and stored inside the helicopters during transport on a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy.

“We’re building back up the Chinooks because they were torn down to fit inside the C-5s to come back over here from Afghanistan,” said U.S Army Pfc. Kylie Cargill, 122 Bravo Company, Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade Chinook Maintainer. "We’re just getting it ready to fly again.”

Utilizing cargo aircraft such as C-5s and C-17s allows for expedient transportation of shorter-range aircraft.

“It’s pretty common to move them around on a C-5. We can’t keep a chinook in the air for as long of a time so the C-5s transport it. It’s less flight hours for the Chinook and less maintenance,” said Cargill. “It’s less stops and it saves a lot of time so we can get them from point A to B and get them right into combat or, in a case like this, get them home.”

Chinooks are used for a variety of missions including medical evacuation, search and rescue, parachute drops, disaster relief, aircraft recovery and more.

“These things are incredible in the air,” said U.S Army Spc. Nino Rodriguez, 122 Bravo Company, Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade Chinook Maintainer. “It’s a workhorse of the Army. We can lift other Chinooks, put 32-plus people on there, you can throw guns on the side of it, you can shoot down incoming missiles. It’s really like a Swiss Army knife of aircraft.”

These helicopters marked the first of many of Fort Bragg’s helicopters to come through Seymour Johnson.

“We should have some [UH-60] Blackhawks and [AH-64] Apaches coming in, along with more Chinooks,” Said Rodriguez. “Those aircraft will come in and their respective [Military Occupational Specialties] will come in and start building them up and flying them back to Fort Bragg.”

The joint effort between the Army and Air Force demonstrates their capabilities and a unified military force.

“Being in the 82nd Airborne, we’re supposed to be able to deploy very quickly so having the Air Force there to help us just helps get the aircraft over as quickly as possible,” said Rodriguez. “We can’t fly across the ocean, we can’t fly halfway across the world but the Air Force can.”