ILLESHEIM - Soldiers of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division gathered on a cool summer day at Illesheim Army Airfield to honor the career of their commander, and one of the Army's senior aviators.

Col. Chris Black, who piloted his first flight in 1994, conducted his final flight today as an Army aviator.

As he landed his UH-60 Black Hawk for the final time, the aircraft taxiied through an arch of water produced by two of the airfield's fire engines. Moving through the water arch is an aviation tradition, symbolizing a pilot's final successful flight.

Once the engine was shut down, Black exited the aircraft and was greeted by fellow aviators and Soldiers of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade. He was then "hosed down" in the manner of aviation tradition. After a few congratulatory hugs and handshakes, Black addressed the Soldiers under his command.

"I started flight school in 1994 and have done some incredible things in that helicopter," Black told the crowd of Soldiers. "I've flown in 27 different countries and with some outstanding pilots." He went on to say, "Thanks to the whole enterprise, you've kept me safe and kept me alive."
When asked how he felt about his final flight, Black responded, "It just kind of hit me this morning. As I was getting closer and closer to the aircraft, I started getting a little bit misty eyed remembering all the memories I've had in that aircraft. It's very special."

Black will conclude his time as Commander of the 1st Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division on Friday, July 19. Following this assignment, he will take a position in U.S. Army Forces Command, Fort Bragg, NC.