California Army National Guard Move Up to CH-47F
1st General Support Aviation Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment “Delta Schooners”, California Army National Guard received first of 12 CH-47F Chinook helicopters to replaced the CH-47D aging fleet.
US Army, November 20, 2014 - STOCKTON, Calif. by Capt. Jason Sweeney - The first of 12 new CH-47F Chinook helicopters arrived at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Stockton, California, Nov. 6 after a cross-country flight.
A Stockton flight crew from the 1st General Support Aviation Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment “Delta Schooners” flew the aircraft on a 2,200 nautical mile ferry flight from Fort Hunter in Savannah, Georgia, to its new home in Stockton.
“It has that new car smell,” Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Harvey said of the new Chinook. Harvey was one of the pilots who flew the aircraft across the country.
Ten of the new aircraft will have arrived in Stockton by late December with two more arriving in the next two years.
The CH-47F Chinooks are replacing the California National Guard’s aging CH-47D fleet, which consists of aircraft originally built in the 1960s and 1970s, some of which have more than 10,000 flight hours.
The dual rotor, heavy lift CH-47 has been part of Army aviation for half a century.
In California, the Chinook does everything from troop movement to cargo transport to water drops while fighting wildfires to high altitude search and rescues.
The big helicopter first joined the Army’s aircraft fleet in 1962. While the Army has long since retired other helicopters from that era, such as the iconic UH-1 Hueys and AH-1 Cobras, the Chinook is still flying strong.
Its versatility, usefulness and power, along with some high-tech upgrades, mean the aircraft will be a part of Army Aviation for decades to come.
The new CH-47F helicopters that are joining the Cal Guard fleet are right off the assembly line with all new parts. Harvey described the new “F Model” as a technological marvel—an aircraft for the iPad generation.
In fact, pilots now carry iPads in the cockpit and use them as flight aids.
“Everything is computerized,” Harvey said about the CH-47F. “The computer will hover, fly the routes and make approaches to a hover for you. Pilots take it off the ground and the computer can execute the rest. The biggest advantage to this technology is the safety enhancement during decreased visibility environments, such as dust landings during air assault-type missions. There are 17 computers that fly this aircraft.”
Harvey, who began his aviation career flying the CH-47A model, said the newest model brings significantly improved navigation capabilities and a decreased pilot workload, which reduces crew stress during missions. It will also carry new, enhanced digital data link systems that will increase situational awareness for flight crews.
“The older airframes require a lot of maintenance due to age,” Harvey said. “They are older and harder to keep up. The new aircraft bring more reliability by far.”
One of the aircraft the new CH-47F helicopters is replacing happens to be the oldest flying Chinook in the world. That aircraft first flew in 1960 and was the fifth Chinook ever built. It remained in service after its predecessors were grounded, and deployed to Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“She was very reliable and a great aircraft,” Harvey said. “She flew smooth and you never knew she was that old.”
That aircraft will be retired in Stockton where it will remain on static display.
An inauguration ceremony for the new aircraft, conducted by the Boeing Corporation and the National Guard Bureau, is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 5 in Stockton.
Boeing CH-47F Chinook 12-08402 ( US Army Aviation )