German Army Aviation chief visits Fort Rucker
March 7, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 7, 2013) -- German army Brig. Gen. Reinhard Wolski, branch chief of German Army Aviation and commander of the German Army Aviation School, visited Fort Rucker Feb. 26-28 to tour the post and meet with Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general.
Wolski visited for a number of reasons, according to Tish Williamson, chief of protocol.
"He had an office call with the commanding general, he attended a few briefings, toured the museum and had a cooperation program discussion with the curator there. He also toured Lowe Army Heliport with a UH-60M static display and viewed the Warrior Hall simulators," she said.
Wolski trained and graduated from flight school at Fort Rucker in 1983 and said he loved being able to come back to see how the post and the nearby cities have changed.
"It feels like home. I have seen the development and upgrades and all the work that has been put into infrastructure. It is really impressive -- the output of everyone involved; from the pilots to the quality of the simulators," said Wolski.
The brigadier general said that his visit was twofold, to brief the international students and staff on German Aviation and to learn more about American Aviation.
"I am here first to visit my colleagues, students and staff, at the international student office to see how the German community is doing here as well as brief them on what has changed in German Army Aviation," he said. "The other half of my visit is to review and get new information from Fort Rucker and American Aviation."
Of everything that Wolski experienced during his visit, he was most excited about meeting Mangum.
A surprise lay in store for Wolski. He was, unsuspectingly, presented the U.S. Army Master Aviator Badge by Mangum upon meeting him the day of his departure.
"We have only done this with three other foreign officers. We will present to you Master Army Aviator Wings. It is a pleasure to do so," said Mangum. "We went to flight school at the same time, and it is great to see that a graduate of Fort Rucker and our flight program is the leader of the Aviation program in his country."
Wolski said he appreciated receiving the award.
"Thank you so much. This is a great honor for me; really I am speechless. It is a complete surprise. I never expected this," he said.
A close friend of Wolski, Lt. Col. Martin Geller, German Army liaison officer, had nothing but great things to say about Wolski, whom he went to basic officer leadership course with in 1977.
"He was and is a model of [what] a German officer and Army Aviator [should be]. He is very smart, very disciplined and he is a workaholic. I couldn't ask for a better comrade," said Geller, adding that Wolski has always been the "think tank" of German Army Aviation.
"The smile on his face during the ceremony was priceless. He will wear the Master Aviator Wings with pride," he said.
Besides meeting Mangum, Wolski said that he was looking forward to being briefed on the development of U.S Army Aviation and to get some input on American Aviation.
"A great thanks to the U.S. Army Aviation since they gave us great help in Afghanistan. We do not know how we can pay that back," he said. "The hospitality here is great. What Fort Rucker does for Germans here and for the other foreign nations is outstanding. I cannot extend my gratitude more to the United States' Army Aviation."
Though Wolski is qualified to fly a wide range of aircraft, he knew little of the UH-60M Black Hawk and was given a tour of the helicopter.
"I was trying to show him about the M model; tell him why we bought it, and show him some of the upgrades on it and why we upgraded it," said Capt. Aaron Nichols, company commander of F Company, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment. "I then showed him a little on how we train the pilots to fly them."
The captain and the general talked about the differences between German helicopters and American, and compared the different gauges and the layout of the controls, calling it "very interesting, but definitely different."
"We had him try out a Cockpit Academic Procedural Trainer, and showed him how we train with it and why. Once he got inside the helicopter, he had a lot of good questions about the aircraft, he seemed really interested," added Nichols.
Wolski, who began his Army career as a paratrooper, decided he wanted to fly aircraft instead of jumping out of them, so he became a helicopter pilot and his love for flying brought his career to where it is today.