Disaster-response team ready for business
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (Army News Service, Nov. 9, 2006) - The Army calls it DART, for Downed Aircraft Recovery Team. Soldiers of Company B, 449th Aviation Service Battalion, called it a chance to do what they have been training for.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter belonging to the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade made a precautionary landing in Southern Iraq recently because of low fluid pressure. The 449th ASB, known as "Fix Forward," sprang into action to prepare the helicopter for movement to a Forward Operating Base for repair.

Normally the aircraft would have been moved to a repair facility via ground transportation. But in this area of the world, security concerns make it preferable to move it through the air. Thus, the decision to sling load the aircraft, which included connecting the aircraft to a CH-47 Chinook with cables and letting the larger bird carry it to the FOB.

Having rehearsed the drill eight times before, the Soldiers reacted decisively and methodically. The team configured a Unit Maintenance Aircraft Kit for a UH-60 one-hook recovery procedure, then reviewed the DART process checklist.

"We removed the (rotor) blades and set up the sling load in under an hour," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Haynes of the 449th ASB.

Upon arrival at the forward base, the Soldiers unhooked the line from the Black Hawk, removed the shackle and repacked their equipment.

"From first notification to mission complete we were moving for 26 hours," said Sgt. Johnny Orneloz.

After having time to think about the mission, would they want to do it again'

"I'd do it again everyday if I had to; that is why we are here," said Spc. Jack Johnston.