MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
“It’s not a ‘Yankee’,” declared Maj. Louis P. Simon. “It’s just a more awesome Huey.”
Two pilots, including Simon, a UH-1Y Huey pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and two crew chiefs flurried around a two-week-old Huey, bearing the new “Y” designator on its official name, preparing to practice their maneuvers for HMLA-267’s Family Day, Oct. 23.
The Huey has been in use since the 1960’s as close air support and for troop movement and was designed to be an all-purpose aircraft.
The HMLA-267 “Stingers” demonstrated these capabilities at the squadron family day, firing tube-launched, optically tracked, wired-guided missiles; GAU-19/A electronically-driven gatling “miniguns” and performing a casualty evacuation.
On this day, Oct. 21, the pilots and crew chiefs must practice their carefully planned show to ensure the four aircraft – two Hueys and two AH-1W Cobras – fly together with choreographed precision.
While the demonstrated techniques show the basic functionality of how Cobras and Hueys work together, Gunnery Sgt. John A. Northcott, a crew chief with HMLA-267, admitted it is more of a summary for the families than an actual mission demonstration.
When two Hueys and two Cobras fly together, they are referred to as a “division,” a tactically effective team that shares the same mission. A Huey can insert or remove troops while a Cobra provides close air support, and the Huey can support the Cobra as a gunship.
“Every time we fly, it’s a patrol,” explained Lt. Col. Philip Pastino, the commanding officer of HMLA-267, at the preflight brief on trying to relate the Stinger mission to friends and families.
The demonstration for Family Day showed friends and family who have never seen the aircraft in action just how crucial the Hueys are in a combat situation, and illustrated the Stinger motto: “Any time, any where.”
“The best part [of flying on a Huey] is when you pick some one up in Iraq who’s been in a bad situation. You can see in their eyes that they were [in trouble],” said Northcott.
The rain began to fall during the practice flight as the Huey circled over the designated range and a voice came over the radio to warn the crew chiefs: a family of buffalo had wandered too close to the chosen targets and they would need to find a new area to shoot.
The Marines adapted to changes in their meticulous flight plan as the weather changed, weapons misfired and Murphy’s Law had its way.
The Stingers finished their flight with a list of adjustments they accounted for on Family Day. This new Huey might be “more awesome,” but the Marines are still learning the intricacies of the new model.
True professionals, the Marines showed their families and friends what it means to fight “any time, any where.”