How To Fly an Attack Helicopter
A blog about what it’s like flying a helicopter in the army.
A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” [Image]
AH-64 Apache [Image]
UH-60 Blackhawk [Image]
Want to learn how to fly? I can teach you.
Do you want to be a pilot in the army? Here’s my advice: apply for OCS (Officer Candidate School). It’s more competitive than ROTC and West Point, but there is no better way to get into the US Army. Go to OCS, become an officer, and then apply for flight school. If you can’t make it into any of these programs, try civilian flight training. It may take longer, but at least you get paid while you learn!
I will start off by saying that I am writing this blog as a college student, as well as an attack helicopter pilot in the United States Army. I am currently a student at Texas A&M University, where I am studying Nuclear Engineering (this is my interpretation of how to get rich).
I am also an attack helicopter pilot in the United States Army. That is, I fly a Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. The AH-64D is the world’s most advanced attack helicopter, and it’s a lot of fun to fly.
I got into helicopters mainly because they are cool. They can do things that no other aircraft can do, and they’re more maneuverable than anything with wings. They are also very challenging to fly, and I like challenges.
But what all this means is that if you ever see me flying an Apache over your house, it’s either because we’re on our way to fight a war or because we’re lost. Don’t worry though; we can’t see you from up there anyway.
I originally wrote this for a friend of mine who was considering joining the army to fly helicopters. I figured that if someone who knew nothing about it got the same impression I did, they’d probably be very surprised when they actually joined.
A lot of people think that the army is “adventurous” or “exciting.” The reality is that it’s a job like any other job. You go in, you do your thing, you leave. You don’t get to run around shooting guns or flying combat missions or anything like that; you spend most of your time doing training and paperwork, and then you go home. This stuff is really boring, so I’m not going to write about it.
I’m going to write about the interesting parts: flying helicopters, and other things that are out of the ordinary. It might seem weird for me to call them “out of the ordinary,” since they’re part of my normal life now. But if you haven’t been in the army, then I think it will be interesting for you, too.
Flying an Apache helicopter is pretty cool
You’re not just a helicopter pilot. You’re an attack helicopter pilot. And you fly the most powerful, maneuverable attack helicopter in the world-the AH-64 Apache.
As an Apache Helicopter Pilot, you’ll be responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of the most sophisticated multi-mission combat helicopters in the world.
You’ll have leadership and management responsibilities as a member of a UH-60 Black Hawk or AH-64 Apache helicopter crew. You’ll also be responsible for performing preflight checks, controlling aircraft flight and navigation, and operating aircraft communications equipment.
While on missions, you may operate fixed-position machine guns to provide cover for troops on the ground. During peacetime you may provide support to civil authorities during national emergencies and natural disasters.
And now I’m trying to learn how to fly.
I’m still very much a student pilot, but I can imagine how I would feel if someone came into my class and started acting like they were an expert. After you’ve been in the army for a while, you can get the same feeling when people start talking about all the things they know about the army that are wrong.
I’m guessing that some of you want to be pilots, or maybe just like helicopters. 🙂 Which is great! It’s fun to talk about something you love, especially when there are other people who love it too.
But when you’re writing about a military topic, even if it’s just for fun, please remember that there are people around who really have spent years learning everything there is to know about it, who have studied and practiced it until they’re good enough at it that they get paid to do it every day.
So when you get into a big discussion with someone who knows as much as you do about helicopters, or more, and they tell you something is wrong, please try not to be too certain that your way is right. You may have heard something different from a friend of your uncle’s who was in the army back in ‘Nam, or
The first session in flight school was devoted to helicopter aerodynamics. The theory is that before you get into the cockpit of a $3 million machine with its main rotor spinning at 400 rpm, it’s probably a good idea to understand how it works.
It’s not like an airplane, which flies by pushing air down. The helicopter is a rotor on top of a stick on top of a gas tank with some seats and instruments attached. It works by spinning the rotor (actually two rotors, one on either side of the fuselage) and pushing air down.
You want to go up? Push more air down. You want to go forward? Push more air over the back of the blades. You want to turn? Have one blade push more air than the other side (and wait for a while). It’s simple, really.
Or so they say…