World Helicopter Day 2020- Left Skid Low
It has been said that it takes a very smart person to fly an airplane. However it takes a very smart fool to fly a helicopter. A very crazy smart fool at that. Reasons why? Because by nature a helicopter doesn't want to fly. The thing is, helicopters are different from airplanes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if it is not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly.
A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying, immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter. It has been said that, "A helicopter is a beautiful display of 1000 parts moving in unison and constantly trying to pull itself apart". During the Vietnam War, which is also notably known as the "helicopter war", saw the revolutionary implementation of rotorcraft in a new concept called Airmobile. Due to the thick triple canopy jungle terrain troops needed to be inserted to engage an elusive enemy that all to often they could not see. In order to accomplish this, enter the UH-1 Iroquois, affectionally known as, the "Huey".
Usually flying into hostile landing zones referred to as "hot LZ's" and often under
intense enemy fire, helicopter pilots during the Vietnam War were tasked with braving the odds of being shot down while inserting troops and much needed supplies, and extracting wounded troops, while being shot at. War correspondent and later 60 Minutes reporter Harry Reasoner said of the brave pilots, "This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why, in generality, helicopter pilots are open, clear-eyed buoyant extroverts, introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.”
Everyday, brave souls strap on rotors and beat the air into submission to perform a variety of essential tasks. Whether as a part of an aerial news crew monitoring traffic concerns, or a law enforcement helicopter pursuing suspects from above, or air ambulatory helicopters dispatched to and from rural areas saving lives, or those pilots that ferry the affluent and corporate elite via metropolitan roof tops, or those serving military operations worldwide under the most hazardous conditions, the world acknowledges those efforts. Earlier this year, the world seemingly came to a heart
gripping grinding halt at the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and the passengers and crew which included his daughter. Such events remind us of the unfortunate tragedies associated with the pushing of the aviation envelope.
In the midst of the global COVID-19 Pandemic, essential personnel have to perform essential duties. Hospitals became overwhelmed, while fear, panic, and uncertainty gripped the populace. This pandemic, unlike any other that we've experienced in our lifetime forced radical changes to how air ambulatory services have to operate. For helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) such as Air Methods, the protection of air medical crews has never been so extensive and important.
Once a transport is complete, crews must change out of their flight suits and shower, then decontaminate the aircraft before returning to base. Following up with hospitals to confirm which patients had COVID and determining whether crew members need to be proactively quarantined have also become common practice. The pandemic has required crews to take great care and deliberate steps while they quickly transport critical
patients who are often on a ventilator and receiving complex prehospital care. According to Air Methods VP of Flight Operations Jason Quisling, Air Methods has transported over 1,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the
In Alabama helicopters are so important that in 2014, then Alabama Governor Robert Bentley had an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency helicopter fly his wallet from his Tuscaloosa residence, to where he was staying in his beachfront home in Gulf Shores, Alabama which was a five hour drive away. This past April, in a joint manhunt between Birmingham and Irondale Police Departments, a Jefferson County Star 1 helicopter was called to provide aerial surveillance in the efforts to apprehend Derrick Hightower who was wanted by multiple authorities for four murders stretching from Auburn to Birmingham.
During the course of its inaugural year 2019, Star 1 made 272 flights. The crew (Joint Jefferson County Sherriff Deputies and Birmingham Police) which consists of only two pilots and one tactical fly officer, has assisted in 99 arrests and made 18 captures themselves. In 50 occasions, they were first on the scene of a crime or incident. Star 1 has assisted in 33 traffic stops, 23 foot pursuits, 20 vehicle chases and recovered 10 stolen vehicles after spotting them from the air. According to Birmingham Deputy Police Chief Darnell Davenport, Star 1 has resulted in an 8% reduction in area crime. The Shelby County Sheriff's Department in neighboring Calera, Alabama is also instrumental in offering aerial law enforcement as it too has contributed immensely to the reduction in crime.
As you are reading this article, forest fires are ravaging the State of California amid and terrible heat waves which only deepens the dire situation. Richard Cordova is leading efforts for aircrews to assist 14,000 ground personnel fight hundreds of simultaneous fires ravaging northern and central California.
For the first time, pilots can now fight fires at night due to recent delivery of Cal Fire's fleet of 12 brand new S-70i Firehawk helicopters. The Firehawk is based on the US military's UH-60 Black Hawk and is engineered and factory-built specifically for firefighting. The new fleet of helicopters cost $300 million, $24 million a piece, and are equipped with state of the art avionics. The new Firehawks are equipped with more space for up to eight firefighters, a hoisting system and a larger tank for one thousand gallons water storage. The previous Huey's used could only accommodate for 300 gallons. Under the leadership of Cal Fire Deputy Director Mike Mohler, its pilots and crews are being equipped the best aircraft, equipment, and training to fight fires that
have persistently ravaged this area of the country. Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is a state agency responsible for fire control across 31 million acres of timberland, brush, and urban forest. Cal Fire air units respond to more than 3,500 wildfires in an average year, and sometimes the agency itself calls for help, often the California Army National Guard.
Helicopter pilots such as those at Cal Fire risk life and limb, in some of the most hindered and deadliest environments, with poor visibility. The new helicopter is capable of flying 175 miles an hour and its twin engines mean it’s safe and capable enough to fight fires at night. Under the most hazardous conditions, these pilots fly into danger to save lives, properties, and thousands of acres of timber. It takes a person of steel resolve and strong mental mettle to accomplish such feats. We salute those gallant and selfless pilots and crews who are risking life and limb, to protect the lives and properties of California residents.
This year has been groundbreaking and historical for women military rotorcraft aviators, particularly African American women. Earlier this year
1st Lieutenant Kayla Freeman was the recipient of the 2019 Veteran of the Year award during the annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Governor Kay Ivey was on hand to present her with the award in a ceremony attended by hundreds. The interesting thing about Lieutenant Freeman is that in 2018, she became the first African American helicopter pilot in the Alabama Army National Guard. Lieutenant Freeman distinguished herself in combat in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT). She has joined the ranks of her predecessors such as Captain Vernice Armor, the first African American Marine helicopter pilot who engaged in fierce aerial combat by delivering crucial close air support to Marine ground forces in Iraq. Both women, as well as several other African Americans can trace their wing roots back to Marcella Hayes.
Marcella Hayes, who began her military career as an ROTC cadet at the University of Wisconsin, became the first black female pilot in the
U.S. military in 1979. She graduated Army Flight School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, earning her paratrooper badge during her training as a helicopter pilot. Hayes became the 55th woman to earn her pilot wings from the US Army. Her accomplishments opened doors for women of all racial backgrounds. Just as we celebrate the legacy of rotorcraft among the more combat oriented military branches, we salute those of the US Coast Guard.
We honor trailblazers such as Spelman College alumnus Lieutenant Commander La'Shanda R. Holmes of the U.S. Coast Guard Spelman College. She was an Aircraft Commander at Air Station Los Angeles, Air Station Atlantic City where she was deployed multiple times to Washington D.C. as a rotary wing air intercept pilot, and Air Station
Miami. She has amassed over 2,000 flight hours conducting search and rescue, counter drug, law enforcement, and Presidential air-intercept missions. She was appointed as a White House Fellow in 2015 by President Barack Obama. During 2015–2016 she was the Special Assistant to the former NASA Administrator General Charles F. Bolden. Lt. Commander Holmes paved the way for others to follow her lead to comprise the "Fab 5", the first five African American women
to become naval aviators in the US Coast Guard. These women are but just a few of inspirational faces that reflect the professionalism and bravery of the Coast Guard who because they are not as combat oriented, are often overlooked for their efforts to serve this nation.
Often times, these men and women are tasked with deploying at a moment's notice to rescue stranded hikers as well as those stranded at sea, including aircraft search and rescue efforts for both land and sea sites. Also they are tasked with monitoring inclement weather and often deploy in harsh weather conditions, including sub-zero degree waters to execute the Coast Guard mission. In the end, lives are saved.
We also take this time to honor those lost in the line of duty, having made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of advancing flight. Whether it is military,
commercial, or general aviation, our torches are forever lit to those who've exchanged one pair of wings for another. Oh how you have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, put out your hand and touched the face of God. We reflect back to the Battle of Mogadishu, better known as "Blackhawk Down", in which those gallant men fought in the face of overwhelming odds, honoring the creed of leaving no man behind. Little did they know that from the lessons learned from that fateful day, they were providing a model for future engagements for the forthcoming GWOT. It was a tragic day in the history of US military and US Army Aviation. We will never forget those men who were killed in action for they went in peace. In remembrance of the pilots and crew of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, HMLA/169, and the pilots and crew of the Minnesota Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter that crashed in 2019, and countless others that have perished since the inception of rotor flight.
In observance of World Helicopter Day 2020, I pay my own respects to my inspiration of rotor flight. Like any other kid of the 1980's I grew up in awe of such iconic shows
such as Airwolf, and Blue Thunder, which was based off of the motion picture. Here you had a state of the art futuristic helicopter that was bullet proof. It had a high resolution telescopic lens camera that could zoom in with great clarity see, well go watch the movie and see for yourself. Perhaps the climax of the film involved a dogfight between Blue Thunder and two Air Force F-16's, something that had never been seen in cinema. The year 1984 can be regarded as "The Year of The Helicopter because you had three television shows that featured helicopters as the main character and seemingly had a life of their own: Riptide, Blue Thunder and Airwolf.
The Airwolf helicopter was a "futuristic" helicopter with advanced capabilities such as a stratospheric ceiling, stealth noise signature, a wide range of weapons and even supersonic speed. In actuality, it was a modified Bell 222 helicopter. Airwolf was also fitted with various prop modifications, such as "turbojet" jet engines and intakes, an in-air refueling nozzle and blister cowling on the nose, retractable machine guns at the wingtips, and a retractable "ADF Pod" rocket launcher, known as the All Directional Firing. The ADF pod could rotate 180 degrees to fire at targets at the sides, 90 degrees to the left, forward, or 90 degrees to the right on the belly of the airframe. What I really enjoyed was when the turbo button was pressed, it made the signature howling sound. With its twin engines it could fly at 345 mph. In turbo mode it could then fly at Mach 1+, something no other helicopter in the world could do. It was also equipped with an advanced computer system which could identify and track aircraft and ground vehicles. It could display 3D wireframe models and schematics of its targets. The communications system could eavesdrop on radio and telephone conversations. such as the conversation between NFL legends Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus in one episode. Airwolf was basically aerial version of Knightrider's K.I.T.T. It was all Hollywood, the 1980's, and we loved it.
Also a fan of the movie and television series Blue Thunder, initially Blue Thunder looked like a rearranged and confused AH-64 Apache helicopter. In fact, it was a modified Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter. It had so many exterior modifications on it that it could fly only 100 mph. In its original state it could fly 300 mph. Decades later I found out that due to its weight, many of the aerobatics that the aircraft performed on the show, were done by a remote control version. Considering that CGI wasn't around yet, such feats were very believable, which sold the show. You mean we were actually looking at a R/C mockup that could be purchased now at a hobby shop ? Wow.
The front gun mount, akin to those on the AH-1 Cobra and AH-64 Apache was supposedly a 20mm cannon that fired 4,000 rounds per minute, was in fact a set of wooden dowels on a real Aerospatiale. This mock-up of the gun was incapable of firing, but was capable of turning and was hydraulically controlled.
The gun that viewers saw firing in the film was another mock-up which was not even mounted on the helicopter. It was actually a metal tubing with spark plugs to ignite acetylene as it was blown through the barrels. Thanks to editing we were unaware of this. What we were amazed at were the fireball explosions of what the aircraft shot and blew up.
As kids we would argue to no ends about which helicopter was the best and which show was the best. We cared less about the story lines but enjoyed the explosions, rapid fire machine guns, attractive female characters, and 1980's hypermasculinity. My mom bought me a toy Blue Thunder from Zayre. It was new but at a discounted price due to it being out of the box, and minus the toy pilot. Twirling the rotor blades with my fingers, I could clearly see that a helicopter functioned differently than an airplane. Having something in my hand, it was there that I really began to become inquisitive as to how a helicopter operated. The helicopters had swag, just like those who flew it. What better person to fly Blue Thunder than the man who blew up Jaws ?
I also enjoyed the zaniness and antics of the character Murdoch on the A-Team. His character also intrigued me because of his interesting back story. Easily to be written off as the clown prince among the A-team, his character had the most depth. He touted himself as the best helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Considering he flew in a "crack commando" unit, that was an exciting caveat.
He also claimed to have flown in the USAF Thunderbirds. As seen throughout the numerous episodes, he could fly just about any aircraft in the world. However, he had issues that the show attempted to make comical. "Howling Mad" Murdoch clearly had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), something that the American public and veterans alike did not want to discuss in a serious manner.
Murdock is officially declared insane when the A-Team robbed the Bank of Hanoi and was committed to a psychiatric hospital. His backstory stated him as having paranoid anxiety, delusions, and intermittent memory loss. The symptoms of his "insanity" vary from episode to episode and often escaped from the Veterans Administration (VA) Psychiatric Hospital to accompany the A-Team on their missions. He also had an imaginary dog as a friend and a strong streak of immaturity. His character frequently watched cartoons, read comic books, and dressed sloppy. He wore his trademark A2 leather bomber jacket, akin to Indiana Jones and his iconic "why be normal ?" t-shirt, which made both garments hot and had to have items for fans. Even though his character was very bizarre in a humorous way, he had an above average intelligence level. After all, he was a Captain in the US Army. What I also loved about his character was his love/hate relationship with Mr. T which played off of his different personalities and Mr. T's fear of flying. In actuality, the bickering between the two characters made the show and added depth to both actors.
I also watched the show Riptide, but wasn't much of a fan. The show Riptide was basically rip-off of Magnum P.I. It was about three private investigators, living
in a houseboat and flying around in a horrible paint schemed Sikorsky S-58T helicopter nicknamed, "Screaming MiMi". It looked like a big ugly pink cow. Nothing sexy about that. But the show that really hit home for me was Magnum P.I., not because of Tom Selleck's mustache, but because of his pilot T.C., portrayed by actor Roger Mosely.
His portrayal showed me that as a young black boy, the thrill of powered flight could be within reach, literally. On the show, he
actually flew the aircraft, a Hughes 500D, the civilian variation of the OH-6 military helicopter, affectionally called the "Loach" and "little bird". It had a paint scheme that was apparently a throwback to the 1970's - orange, brown, and yellow.
He was the epitome of cool. The back story of Theodore was that he was a US Marine Naval Aviator having flown special ops in Marine Observation VMO 2 based in Da Nang, Vietnam during the Vietnam War. What Marine is willing to be called Theodore Charles ? Considering that he was the pilot, owned his own business - Island Hoppers helicopter tours, and a
Marine, as far as I was concerned TC stood for "Too Cool". The show could have easily been a spin-off or carry over from the Rockford Files starring James Garner. It was basically Rockford Files on the Beach plus Hawaii 5-0 with 80's excess which explains the Ferrari. My mother met him at a house party of a family friend that played for the Atlanta Falcons at the time of the peak of Magnum P.I.. She got his autograph for me and if I had it now, I'd probably be wealthy.
All of these shows grabbed on certain parts of the human desire to be innovative, bold, and daring with a ton of sex appeal. Blue Thunder and Airwolf particularly were head on collisions of science fiction and pushing the technological envelope. Blue Thunder dealt with a superior technologically advanced law enforcement helicopter that he found to have a secret and nefarious hidden agenda while Airwolf dealt with fighting Communist menace and nefarious characters. But most importantly, factored in with other iconic shows of that period such as Simon & Simon and MacGyver, were nods and attempts to redeem the Vietnam Veteran. The fact that some of these iconic shows and episodes are still being shown somewhere in the world in syndication, proves the excitement and value of these shows and gives honor to the backstories of the characters portrayed.
Like any other kid of the era I raced home to watch iconic cartoons of the time; Thundercats, He-Man, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Many of the characters were fascinating, both Joe's and Cobra's alike. But the one that grabbed me the tightest was Wild Bill, US Cavalry Scout and AH-1 pilot. For a cartoon, it was chock full of adventure of good versus evil. Interesting enough, although sometimes the bad guys
often won and had the upper hand at times, no one was ever killed despite the many shoot outs and explosions. Wild Bill's
character was the most animated because he embodied the ultimate cowboy. He was loud, wild, and threw caution to the wind, the epitome of a helicopter. He was a cowboy's cowboy and his Stetson hat, sunglasses, and mustache gave him swag to boot. His card profile said that his real name was Chief Warrant Officer 4 William "Bill" S. Hardy. He was initially a combat infantryman and participated in LRRP operations during the Vietnam War. He reenlisted for Flight Warrant Officer School at Ft. Rucker and participated in top secret missions which is why his back story claimed that his specialized training records are classified.
This only added to his mystique. His helicopter was nicknamed, "Dragonfly". If Airwolf and Blue Thunder were Harley Davidson Fat Boy's, well Dragonfly was a chopper. He was part cowboy, wild frat boy, and renegade motorcycle rider mixed together and he seemingly had no fear of danger, nor death. His character was more in depth in the comic book series.
In the comics, he was shot down numerous times and had to survive using his Survival Evasion And Rescue skills. He actually engaged in up close and personal fights with Cobra agents such as Destro and Tomax and Xamot and was often injured, even shot once. His card further quoted him as saying, "I'm the bus driver. It's my job to get the guys in to do their job. And if that means hanging tough in a hairy situation, that's ok. That's what I get paid for. Heck. If it were easy they could get anybody to do it." He was of true grit and seemingly looked death in the face ad smiled. In this line of work, it takes a brave fool.
Wild Bill's character was basically an animated version of Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, in the epic film Apocalypse Now. In what can be described as the most prolific 12 minute helicopter action sequence in the history of military films. Lt. Colonel Kilgore of the famed 1st Air Cavalry orders an air assault on a Viet Cong control village in order to take advantage of waves ideal for surf boarding. He was brash, bold, uncompromising, unnerved, and gave not one inch to indecisiveness in the face of the men that he was not only tasked with leading, but charged with preserving every aspect of their well being in combat. The scene is akin to Saving Private Ryan's opening Normandy Beach landing. With dozens of helicopters in the initial assault, we see explosions and sheer furor unleashed onto the VC, with Wagner's "Ride Of The Valkyrie" blaring. Viewers see a young Lawrence Fishburne belt out, "Run Charlie !". We also see a cameo of Full Metal Jacket's "Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermy. But more importantly we see is the fog of war.
I saw the vulnerability of the Huey helicopter as an enemy VC sapper charged the aircraft and blew it up, pilots, crew, and the wounded. Simultaneously there was a very badly wounded soldier with his leg blown off as he screamed in agonizing pain while an elderly Vietnamese couple pray for him. In the melee, the wounded soldier is killed. Exacting his revenge on the enemy sapper, the helicopters fire upon and kill the sapper, elderly couple and several other enemy combatants. It was at that point that I learned the war is just as confusing as it is hell and that there are some lines of war that can and will be crossed. War is not all guts and glory as many motion pictures and video games may portray. War is sinister, it grips, cripples, maims, and destroys despite sometimes being a necessary evil.
As soon as Kilgore exits the helicopter, he is larger than life and clearly commands the scene. He's the human personification of Wild Bill. We see a well contained and fortified masculinity. What made him ultimately convincing is the iconic gold corded Stetson, aviator sunglasses, yellow ascot, and boots with spurs. He's the ideal cavalry officer. While enemy ordinance explodes around him, he barely flinches as he barks out commands and classic lines, " Charlie don't surf !". Even though his methods may have been unorthodox, they were effective. His men it seems would have followed him through the gates of hell itself. He knew what orders to give and how to give them. "If I say its safe to surf this beach, its safe to surf this beach !" Watching how he was unquestionably methodical in his handling of the air assault and the bravado that oozed from his pores, it was at that point I knew that I wanted to be Lt. Colonel Kilgore. Seemingly oblivious to the combat induced confusion around him, he uttered the most memorable line from the movie and is still repeated over four decades after its filming. " I like the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory". What better statement from a 1st Air Cav' officer that flew into battle blaring his own theme music ?
What separated Wild Bill from other iconic helicopter pilots was that he flew the AH-1 Cobra. The Cobra is the evil twin brother, or at least the crazy cousin of the UH-1. It wasn't intended for medical evacuation, troop extraction/insertion, or supply but strictly for sending lead down range. Nothing was peace keeping about it. Walker Jones, a rear gunner pilot for the First Air Cavalry in Vietnam, once profiled the personality of the Cobra pilot. “Cobra pilots tended to be take-charge types. We were the ones who wanted to shoot. We had the most responsibility, day to day, of any other helicopter pilot in the Army.” The front mounted gun could fire 4,000 rounds per minute. It could fire an array of 2.75 zuni missiles from its stub mounted wings. If the Huey was the Outlaw Josey Wales, the Cobra was Dirty Harry. Because I was more of a Star Wars fan when it came to action figures, most of my parent's money went to Star Wars rather than G.I. Joe. However, my good friend Ivan had the Wild Bill and Dragon Fly combination. The Cobra was rude with an attitude and in a fierce firefight when time is of the essence and troops need critical close air support, the Cobra will deliver. The Cobra was essentially the rotary version of the Air Force's A-10 Warthog.
For me, the most dramatic representation of the helicopter was in the motion picture Platoon. Here viewers see actor Willem Dafoe as Sergeant Elias attempting to reach a helicopter during a hot extraction. With hundreds of enemy Vietnamese troops chasing him, Sgt. Elias refuses to go down as he is constantly being shot. The lieutenant orders the pilots to go back and extract the doomed soldier. With "Adagio For Strings" playing during the scene we see an ill fated man running for his life and seemingly being robbed of all that it stood for. Leave no man behind is the creed of the warrior. The gunners fire a
perimeter around Elias and enemy troops are killed. This gives flashing slithers of hope that Elias, somewhat of a martyr will make it out. As the violins let out a seeming melodic cry of tears, his fate is inevitable as he is to his knees. With is hands skyward, it is as if he's praying to God while simultaneously pleading for help from the Huey as his comrades helpless watch his death below. His last view among the living was the Huey flying over head with a bombed out church a hundred feet away. That scene still invokes a heroic pain and anger. The pain of so many young men that paid the ultimate price and the anger of why were they there to begin with?
As a youth, we watched Platoon with our teacher who was a veteran of the Vietnam War. We asked him was that how it was? He replied with one word. Yes. The room was quiet and from that point we had a seeming new found respect for the veterans of that war. Some time later, we watched Full Metal Jacket and the door gunner shoot what were perhaps innocent women and children. Anyone who runs is VC. Anyone who stands still is a well discipline VC. "How can you shoot innocent women and children ?" he was asked. His bold reply was,
"You just don't lead them as much. Ain't war hell ?!" His portrayal after watching Sgt. Elias' run of death made you wonder was the door gunner justified in his sadistic discriminate firing? That helicopter for Elias meant something. It was an angel of mercy, a green stairway to safety and redemption. What was it about him that compelled pilots to fore sake all and attempt to pull him to safety? The helicopter, for those who flew it, designed and often repaired it was the hammer of Thor in which either vengeance or mercy and protection be granted by it. When a person becomes one with the machine, implanted into one's DNA, they become endowed by the Creator to mount upon wings and institute God's will.
As a child the opening scene of M*A*S*H and the iconic Bell H13-Sioux helicopters meant that it was time for me to got to bed. At an airshow in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
a Sioux helicopter was on display by the Birmingham Southern Museum of Flight. People came by and would say just one word - MASH. The only thing more saddening that it was bed time was the depressing theme song. It was while on active duty that I heard the actual words and name of the theme song, "Suicide Is Painless". I found it ironic that a situational comedy had such a sad song. But the harsh reality is that PTSD and suicide is very real. To anyone reading this that is experiencing or knows someone that is experiencing PTSD or has issues with suicide please seek available help and please take advantage of a host of resources or dial 1-800-273-8255. . Because of these motion pictures, we can look back post Vietnam and give humanity to those who had been overlooked due to the public's misunderstanding and lack of empathy for the war weary. It is because of many of these films we could now put a face to the hurt and thus sympathize with Sylvester Stallone's Rambo character in First Blood's final scene when he melts down and in tears explains of seeing the body parts of his friend splattered over his uniform. We can sympathize with the Vietnam Veteran Marine in the closing scenes of the motion picture Jarhead. They simply wanted to be redeemed and understood.
On behalf of a grateful world, we salute the life, legacy, and role of the helicopter and all those connected to it, particularly those who created it. We honor those who flew it and currently flying helicopters. We also salute the door gunners who hung out the side during low level flight to draw out an elusive enemy.
We salute both military and civilian medical staff who go into harm's way to extract out victims, whether in armed conflict or those in rural areas with minimal access to medical care. We honor those ferrying personnel to and from off shore drilling sites. We honor those of foreign militaries and those who've paid the ultimate sacrifice such as, the first Nigeria Air Force female Helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile. We also pay tribute to the 40th Commemoration of Operation Eagle Claw
and the eight lives lost attempting to rescue fifty-two Americans being held hostage in Iran. It is because of this unfortunate incident that the doctrine on special ops helicopter operations was rewritten. Although hard lessons were further learned during the Battle Of Mogadishu, the raid on Osama bin Laden however, fared more favorable results. It is during this challenging year of 2020 that we go full tilt and honor World Helicopter Day to all. Left Skid Low !