Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade take part in dunker qualification at Fort Campbell, Ky., Apr. 6-7, 2022. The training prepares helicopter pilots and crew members to escape from a submerged helicopter. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Wilhoit)
Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade take part in dunker qualification at Fort Campbell, Ky., Apr. 6-7, 2022. The training prepares helicopter pilots and crew members to escape from a submerged helicopter. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Wilhoit) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Ryan Wilhoit) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade attended the Shallow Water Egress Trainer course April 6-7.

The course put Soldiers in a chamber resembling the troop area of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that submerged and flipped over in an indoor pool. Soldiers developed survival skills that could save their lives if they were ever in a helicopter crash over water.

“The purpose of this course is to provide pilots, crew members and passengers with the necessary skills in case they were to find themselves in a situation with their aircraft in the water,” said Chris Smith, the facilities manager for Survival Systems USA at Fort Campbell. “Any aviator runs the risk when flying over water to lose control and inadvertently end up in the water.”

The Soldiers trained for two days in scenarios simulating UH-60 submerged aircraft. They spent several hours in the classroom for instruction, then applied what they learned in the pool.

Soldiers sat in individual seats in a float-lined cage. The instructors then flipped the seat over to get the Soldiers used to being inverted.

After the single-seat training, the Soldiers moved to the Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer, the simulated UH-60 Black Hawk crew area known as the ‘Dunker.’ The UH-60 is lowered into the pool with Soldiers inside and rotates upside down once submerged.

Soldiers then used the skills and techniques learned to get out of the simulator. Guard members said staying calm underwater was the key to escaping a submerged aircraft.

The process was repeated with the lights off and large fans turned on to simulate severe weather.

“This training is very important if we are to find ourselves in an underwater situation that may be life or death. That wouldn’t be the first time we’ve encountered that scenario.,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Downer, crew chief with Bravo Co. 2/147th Assault Helicopter Battalion.

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