Monday, June 21, 2010

Sling loads

UH-60 helicopters are very powerful vehicles, capable of lifting very heavy loads. Those loads are slung underneath the aircraft while the bird hovers a few feet above the heads of the the Soldiers who attach whatever's to be picked up to a surprisingly small hook.

I had the opportunity recently to participate in sling load training -- at night. I'd never done anything like this before.

So there I was, standing out in the middle of a field, holding the sling high above my head, looking through night-vision goggles at a rather large helicopter coming right at me as I was buffetted by the rotor wash from its blades. Because of the night-vision goggles, depth perception is diminished somewhat, adding to the surreal nature of the experience.

Another Soldier stood directly behind me, bracing me against the force of the blast of air coming from the rotor blades.

The load we were attaching to the aircraft was a 4300-pound block of cement.  It would have been great to get photos during this training, but seeing as we were all using NVGs (and I don't have NVGs for my camera), it wouldn't have worked very well to have a camera flash going off.

It was a blast, and not just because of the rotor wash!

I love my job.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ
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