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A CH-53E “Super Stallion” belonging to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 flies over the San Diego coast en route to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to pick up Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 17. Two “Warhorse” aircrews traveled to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. to drop off the Marines and practice terrain flying at low altitudes.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Warhorse flies low

25 Jan 2010 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Flying at a low altitude while maneuvering through mountainous terrain in a CH-53E “Super Stallion” helicopter can feel like a roller coaster, but the aircrew of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 do it all the time.

Two Super Stallions from HMH-465 took to the skies to perform “terrain flying at low altitudes,” known as TERF, at MCAS Yuma, Ariz., Jan. 14 for training and TERF flight instructor qualifications.

HMH-465 aircrew usually conduct TERF flying about two times a week while conducting various training missions. They practice it during troop insertions, external lifts and maneuvering over rocky terrain.

It is essential that pilots and crew chiefs stay proficient in the craft of flying less than 100-feet above ground because they use the skill so often, said Capt. Nicholas J. Harvey, a pilot for the squadron.

“Every time we are flying, we have to use TERF training,” said 1st Lt. Lewis M. Maxwell, a pilot for the “Warhorse.”

The Warhorse flew over the rocky terrain of California on their way to Yuma. After arriving in Yuma they conducted more TERF operations around the dessert terrain.

The California’s terrain is more like Afghanistan’s, and Yuma is similar to Iraq. The different terrain helped the aircrew practice in areas like they would encounter while in theater, commented Harvey.

As the sun set and the squadron finished their training, they headed home with more continuous TERF flight hours under their belt.

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing