FORT RUCKER, Ala. — A “nickel ride” at Fort Rucker’s flight school was worth its weight in gold for one Army aviation family.
2nd Lt. Scott E. Moore Jr., a flight school student at Fort Rucker, recently began the advanced track for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. After a few weeks of academics and familiarization in the cockpit procedure trainer, it was time for Moore’s first real lesson in the aircraft Oct. 7, 2022.
His instructor pilot was his own father — Chief Warrant Officer 5 Scott E. Moore, Sr., a CH-47 instructor pilot at Company B, 1st Battalion, 223d Aviation Regiment.
“To be in the Army at the same time, and in aviation at the same time, and flying the same aircraft at the same time — I think it just shows how special an opportunity this is. I think we’re both really excited,” 2nd Lt. Moore said.
For the “nickel ride,” traditionally the student procures a nickel with their birth year on it to mark the occasion of the first flight. While Moore’s nickel ride was in the UH-72 Lakota during his initial rotary wing training, he did have one on hand for the occasion.
“They’ve been in simulations for two weeks. It’s their first experience with the noise, the shaking, it’s a big aircraft from what they’ve flown with the Lakota. It just gets the nerves out of the way to say, ‘Hey, I can fly this thing. It’s huge, it’s loud, but I can do this’,” said CW5 Moore.
The lesson is a demonstration, and it’s all about building confidence, explained CW5 Moore.
Having an aviator as a father, 2nd Lt. Moore grew up around Army aviation. After graduating high school in 2017 and U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 2021, then entering flight school soon after, he knew his aircraft of choice was the Chinook — one of the many aircraft that his father flew during his 34-year career.
“Anything a Black Hawk can do, a Chinook can do better,” he said.
Hearing his dad talk about the CH-47 mission in combat resonated with 2nd Lt Moore.
“What really drew me to Chinooks is the interpersonal aspect with Soldiers on the ground. I love the idea of being able to load up guys to ride in the back, pick them up after they’ve been doing whatever, or even dropping off water or ammo, just being able to see that direct impact.”
CW5 Moore said the Army was a good career choice for their family and he was happy to see his son take steps to continue the legacy.
“We talk about going away for a year like other people talk about cutting the grass, but we just do it. When we get back, we go on vacation, we pick right back up. The Army’s been such a great life for us,” CW5 Moore said. “And whether he spends his ten years in and then gets out, or if he does 20 years or 30 or whatever, just to know that we’ve continued the service to the nation as a family is pretty important to us.”
“I agree,” 2nd Lt Moore said. “Growing up in a military town and having a lot of friends whose parents were also in the military, it just made me proud and want to do the same thing.”
CW5 Moore recalled how excited his son was when he took him to the simulators when he was younger. To see him grow, and set his sights on the U.S. Military Academy, and graduate, and then to branch aviation and make it to flight school and complete the Lakota portion — so many steps he witnessed as a parent. This flight was yet another step toward a goal.
“You know the day’s coming. I’ve known for about a month now. The emotions of thinking it’s coming, but I also don’t want it to be over. Very rarely does a father and son get to take off to fly together. We’re just blessed that it happened to us,” CW5 Moore said.
Early that morning, the two met up just to have a few private words as father and son before they met later in the classroom as IP and student.
“As a CW5 instructor pilot I’ve done these flights a hundred times. I’m aware that it’s these students’ first flight. But now you add the dad component into it. To see the son that he’s become is amazing,” he said. “I know I’ll be a dad, but as soon as we sit down and start doing aviation, my IP switch will flip over, because I want him to know the aircraft he’s going to be flying. I’ll switch into that mode. But the dad mode is a little harder to deal with than I thought.”
CW5 Moore looked on as his son participated in the classroom Q&A. Afterward, he conducted the table talk portion one on one. They talked about the route they would fly, signed for the keys and checked weight and balance information, retrieved their gear, and walked across the airfield side by side.
Together with the crew member they completed the preflight, and then father and son climbed in the cockpit as IP and student for the day.
“I don’t even like driving with him,” joked 2nd Lt. Moore.
CW5 Moore said he was grateful for the opportunity that day, and commended the cadre of instructor pilots, including the lieutenant’s regular instructor Jed W. Mays, who was on hand during the classroom portion prior to the flight.
“All of them are so good,” he said. “They’ll teach him everything he needs to know.”