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Sea 2 Sky: test, special ops units combine for water survival training

  • Published
  • By Samuel King Jr.

The 96th Test Wing and the 492nd Special Operations Wing came together Aug. 16 to provide realistic hands-on training that met each unit’s different and unique objectives.

The 96th TW’s rotary-wing developmental test squadron, the 413th Flight Test Squadron, conducted hoist training in the squadron’s UH-1 Huey.  The 492nd SOW’s Airmen received water rescue experience as part of the Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape training.

This combination was only the second time the units utilized their resources to accomplish training goals.

The UH-1 Huey crews regularly practice non-live hoists for currency.  The live hoists, however, adds realism to the training as it forces the pilots to hold a stable hover to maintain precise position over the team, while managing wind gusts and strong currents in the waters below.   It also allows them to feel the weight shift in the aircraft when there is an actual person on the hoist.

For the special mission aviators within the helicopter, it creates more difficult power calculations and planning and allows them to practice coordination with the ground team.  They also have to maintain physical control of the hoist cable in more challenging conditions.

Besides testing, one of the UH-1’s mission sets here is search and rescue.  The real-life scenario creates highly applicable training for potential real world situations.

For the special operators in the water, the hoist provides an experience of what a real water rescue could be like.  For most, it will be their first time experiencing that sensation as the water rescue portion of the training is usually simulated due to timing, availability and access to a helicopter.

Water survival is only a portion of SERE training that specific Air Force career field must accomplish every three years.  Combat Aviation Advisors and nonstandard aviation aircrew made up the class that received the training here.