Forca Aerea Brasileira, September 11, 2017 - Esquadrão Gavião (1º / 11º GAV) located at Ala 10 in Natal (RN) celebrated its 50th anniversary with the mission to train pilots and mechanics for helicopter aviation in the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).
Created on September 8, 1967 as a Detachment of Santos Air Base (Destacamento da Base Aérea de Santos, DBAST) as the Helicopter Instruction and Employment Center (Centro de Instrução e Emprego de Helicópteros, CIEH) was instructed to provide aerial instruction and train helicopter operational pilots of the FAB.
The Unit evolved into the Helicopter Instruction Center (Centro de Instrução de Helicópteros, CIH) on January 20, 1970 when it only taught flight instruction on Rotating Wing aircraft until the CIH was transformed along with DBAST into Ala-435 , on April 30, 1973, maintaining its attributions.
Decree 83.538, dated June 4, 1979, created the 1st / 11th GAV Aviation Group, an air unit based at Santos Air Base (created in place of Ala-435). Since then, the 1st / 11th GAV has been a reference in the training of helicopter pilots.
Speaking about the mission, Squadron Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Alexandre de Carvalho Ribeiro said that the knowledge transmitted to pilots allows air squadrons to receive human resources with great potential to be employed. Resources that can be used in the various actions demanded by Brazilian society, as an example: in the interceptions of low performance aircraft; in soil control measures; in supporting flood victims, and the search and rescue service.
"Combatants of the most versatile machine on the battlefield, our valued trainees, at the end of the course, are able to take off from buildings, land in restricted areas, navigate at low altitude, advanced weaponry and refueling, combat with .50-caliber rockets and machine guns and join an escort with helicopters flying tactical training to perform a rescue behing enemy lines", explains Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander.
In 1979, the 1st / 11th GAV had a fleet of 40 Bell OH-13H aircraft, intended for primary education. Throughout history, the Bell H-13H, Sikorsky SH-19D, Bell OH-4 Jet Ranger and Bell UH-1D Huey helicopters operated in the forerunners of the Unit. As of 1981, the Bell UH-1H was used for advanced instruction, which operated until 1986, when the current Helibras H-50 (AS350) aircraft were received.
For the Commander, the Squadron's success story is the result of the dedication, professionalism and courage of generations that have left a legacy. "Driven towards excellence and safety in all actions, the 1º / 11º GAV team draws on the teachings of the past to improve in the present with a constant vision for the future, with the vision of enabling, with activities and operational skills, the future aviators. ", He points out.
In order to publicize the versatility of the aircraft and the skills of the pilots, in 1983, the 1º / 11º GAV created an Air Demonstration Squadron with helicopters, called the Gavião Squadron, which was composed of five Bell H-13H. "The demonstrations were something impressive, because the helicopter's versatility was exploited at its limit, which fascinated all who watched," says Colonel Aparecido Camazano Alamino.
Gavião Squadron carried out numerous demonstrations, however, only operated in 1983, ending a golden phase of the performance of the Bell H-13H in the FAB.
Despite acting as a unit of instruction, the Gavião Squadron has also been activated for Search and Rescue missions. "The story that struck the most, in my opinion, was the burning of the Joelma Building in 1974 in the city of São Paulo. In that enormous tragedy, the FAB helicopters were decisive for many lives to be saved ", specifies the Head of the Subsection of Facilities of the 1st / 11th GAV, Captain Aviator Thiago de Barros Ferraz. "To this day, the instructors of the Squadron, in addition to providing air instruction to the aspirants, compete for a SAR alert scale, to attend to any occurrence involving other aircraft", he adds.
Other missions were marked in the history of the Squadron, like Operations Pernambuco, in 2010; and Serrana, in Rio de Janeiro, in 2011. "H-50 aircraft were engaged, which carried out missions to survey affected areas, rescue victims, send supplies and donation materials to places where land access was destroyed, as well as vaccination in the affected population", reports the Deputy Chief of Support of Wing 10, Captain Aviator Ivan Fontes de Carvalho Júnior, who participated in both missions.