FORT HOOD, Texas - "I hear a bird!"

The group of Soldiers turned to face the sound's direction, shielding their eyes with their hands from the morning sun.

They eagerly awaited the UH-60 Blackhawk's approach. This was the big moment they had all been waiting for.

15th Sustainment Brigade concluded a week long Sling Load Certification Course for 53 Soldiers from various units and posts with a live sling load exercise at Hammer Landing Zone here, Nov. 21.

Soldiers from different units of 1st Cavalry Division, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and Fort Polk, La., learned how to hook sling load packages like humvees, fuel containers, and filled cargo nets to the bottom of helicopters for quick and easy transport.

"It's a class I've always wanted to be in," Spc. Brandon Treaster, a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Joint Readiness Training Center parachute rigger from Fort Polk said.

Treaster said many Soldiers ask riggers if they can do certain tasks which they may not know how to do.

"... but I know how to sling load a humvee," he said.

Three Soldiers made the six hour drive from Polk to attend the class.

The 40 hour class was primarily instructed by a five member mobile training team from Fort Lee, Va. which travels the world to certify servicemembers in sling loading as well as instructs at Fort Lee.

The team's four civilians all had prior Army experience or were retired Army, and were led by one Noncommissioned Officer.

"I just wanted to come back, train Soldiers, be with Soldiers. I kind of missed it," David Hughes, a sling load instructor-writer on the MTT and retired Army parachute rigger said.

This was the sling load MMT's third class at Hood this year, all organized by 15th Sustainment Brigade.

Soldiers in attendance were trained in sling load inspection and rigging, criteria for designating a landing zone, landing zone setup, and the weight different helicopters can handle, Hughes said.

"Just about anything in the Army inventory can be sling loaded," Hughes explained.

Only Soldiers who took the Sling Load Certification Course, Pathfinder, or Air Assault schools are qualified to inspect and prepare loads.

Many of the Soldiers were excited by the experience.

Each of the Soldiers took turns on a cold Friday morning standing in the back of a humvee, bracing themselves as the low flying Blackhawk's rotor wash buffeted against their bodies and the vehicle. With the help of an MTT instructor, they attached a looped rigging from the humvee to a hook on the bottom of the aircraft and then quickly moved to safety.

"It was a big adrenaline rush with that big helicopter right above you," Spc. Alex Christ, helicopter hydraulic mechanic, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division said.

"I hope it fired you up a little bit," Col. Larry Phelps, 15th SB commander told the class at their graduation.

Phelps also praised the MTT for their excellent safety record.

15th SB regularly schedules SLCC classes and Soldiers from any unit are invited. To attend the course, a Soldier must be the rank of specialist or above.