FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker and Army officials broke ground Nov. 7 on a facility designed to take Army Aviation Soldiers back in time to chart the course of the future.
The $32-milllion, state-of-the-art U.S. Army Aviation Training Support Facility, located behind the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, is expected to be completed in approximately two years, according to William G. Kidd, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker deputy to the commanding general.
"Today is a great step forward in our continuing efforts to try to provide the best for the best in the Army," Kidd said. "We couldn't make it without the help and support of everyone that is here with us here today, and also the others before them. Like every great effort in the Army, it's a team effort, and we have a great partnership here with the Center for Military History, the Army Corps of Engineers and our U.S. Army garrison here at Fort Rucker as we go forward to provide world-class facilities for world-class Army Aviators."
When completed, the facility will house technologies from Army Aviation's past, including aircraft, other Aviation equipment, weapons and uniforms. Soldiers will be able to access the exhibits for study and research, and also take advantage of a state-of-the-art classroom and reference library, Kidd added.
"An old adage is those who fail to learn from history will repeat it," he said. "When you're speaking about operations, tactics and the application of technology, we've found it's very useful to start off with a historical background -- what's happened before -- and try to tie in not just the equipment that was used, but the thinking of the human beings that were doing it. What were they facing? What can we learn from that to apply to future operations? Most people learn from other people in other circumstances better than by themselves, so that's the whole idea of using this facility in that way."
The facility helps Fort Rucker follow the direction the Army has been taking in upgrading and updating the way it presents the service's history to new Soldiers, said Robert Mitchell, director of the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
"It will result in better educated Soldiers, and it will also benefit the community through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs," the museum director added. "In this facility, we'll have models of helicopters cut away for instruction to Soldiers, and to youth groups, on how helicopters work and basic aerodynamics."
It's also common practice to look into the past for tomorrow's technology, Mitchell said.
"Another thing many people don't really realize is there is really nothing new under the sun," he said. "When you look at these ideas that they tried 50 years ago, well, they may not have worked then, but these ideas can be resurrected now with our better technology and computers.
"We maintain those artifacts, and routinely industry, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and other think-tanks come down to look at these aircraft for ideas for future aircraft -- many of those ideas are flying around," Mitchell added.
The facility has been in the planning stages for some time and officials were happy to see work finally started, Kidd said.
"We're very excited -- it's been a long time coming and many people before me have worked diligently to make this a reality. This is a wonderful day for Fort Rucker and everyone here," he added. "We are seeing today that linkage on that rich tapestry that we have that is called Army Aviation. This facility will both bind our past with our present, and strengthen us for that future that each one of our Army Aviators are going to face, and give them the tools and the experiences they need to lead well and fly well in the future."