By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 27, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 27, 2012) -- Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley visited Fort Rucker Sept. 20 and toured the various airfields and training facilities on the installation to experience the home of Army Aviation firsthand.
"I really wanted to see the training that goes on here and I wanted to see the physical impact of what we see here today," said Bentley. "I'm just very honored to have served in the military, and when I see this it just makes me proud, not only of Alabama, but of America."
Escorted by Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, Bentley was taken on a tour of the installation and visited areas such as Cairns Army Airfield and Allen Stage Field, where he met and spoke with Soldiers; as well as Warrior Hall in Daleville, where he was able to virtually take flight and experience what it's like to be an Army Aviator.
The governor got to try his hand at flying as he took his tour of the simulated flight training facility, where he was briefed on the type of training that takes place there. He was able to take flight in a number of simulators, including a CH-47 Chinook flight simulator.
"I've always wanted to fly in one of these," he said before entering the simulator.
The visit was Bentley's first visit to Fort Rucker and he said it was an honor to be able to visit a part of the state that is such and integral part of the economy in Alabama.
"[Fort Rucker] is very important, not just for the military, but for our local economy. [The installation] is actually one of the fourth or fifth largest employers in the state," he said. "Not only do we have a lot of military personnel here, but we have a lot of contractors who work here all the time. It would be very difficult to replicate this in any other part of the United States."
Bentley said the biggest impression that Fort Rucker had on him was the precision that the Soldiers and people on the installation use to execute their mission.
"Many of these young pilots that come here had no clue what a helicopter was except for [what they've seen in media]," he said. "They come here and in just a few weeks they are flying these helicopters. Once they learn, it not only gives them a skill, but it protects America."