cob speicher

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SOLDIER STORIES: A day in Iraq through the eyes of a Chinook pilot.

[1] A CH-47D Chinook helicopter sits along the 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade flight line at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq.

[2] A CH-47D Chinook helicopter from 6th BN, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, sling loads fuel blivets to a Forward Armament and Refueling Point in Iraq.

[3] Chief Warrant Officer Three Scott Moore, Company B, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, gets his flight gear ready for another night mission out of Contingency Operating Base Speicher transporting passengers to various locations in Iraq. Moore has flown Chinooks for five years and been a U.S. Army pilot for 14.

(Photos and article by Staff Sergeant Ryan Matson, 25 MAR 2006.)

You name it, Chief Warrant Officer Three Scott Moore, Company B, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, has probably flown it during his 14-year military career. 

He started with UH-1s in 1992, immediately after he had graduated from college and then from flight school, while serving in the Missouri National Guard. During this time, Moore also flew Cobras. From 1998 until 2001, Moore was an Apache attack pilot. Since then, Moore has settled into the cockpit of his newest, and quite possibly last, Army aircraft, the CH47D Chinook helicopter. 

“I envisioned myself as one of those guys who spent 20 years flying the same aircraft,” he said. “I didn’t plan on flying several types of helicopters, it just kind of worked out that way.”

In fact, of the four types of Army helicopters in the aviation brigade he’s deployed with (the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade), Moore has flown two: Apaches, and Chinooks. He has not flown Kiowas and Blackhawks. During his career, Moore has also flown every type of Army mission: he has flown attack missions with Apaches, Air Assaults and troop and cargo transport with Chinooks, Medical Evacuations (MEDEVACs) with Hueys, and just about everything else in between. And while he said he has loved flying the three different airframes he has flown so far, he said the Chinook is a particular favorite. 

“The Chinook is the most awesome airframe I’ve ever flown in my life,” Moore said. “It’s the best instrumented, the best total package, it virtually flies itself. It really is the nicest airframe to fly in the Army.”

Moore affectionately refers to the Chinook as ‘the workhorse.“ It is capable of lifting a combined gross maximum weight of 50,000 pounds, and up to 26,000 pounds on the center hook of the three cargo hooks attached to the bottom of the helicopter. Each one of the blades on the two rotors of the $23 million aircraft weigh 350 pounds and turn in opposite directions, powered by two engines, which each operate at 50 percent of their total potential power output (if a helicopter is to lose an engine, the other will operate at 100 percent capacity to compensate.) 

Besides its tremendous power and lifting capacity, the Chinook is also known for its troop and cargo hauling ability in the cabin area (inside the helicopter). The aircraft has seats for 32 Soldiers and more can be carried if necessary.
He said a good example of the lifting capability and spaciousness of the Chinook is the fact that a High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle can be driven up the ramp into the cabin area of the helicopter, while another can be carried underneath it.

To the people who knew him growing up, Moore said it is no surprise he ended up an Army helicopter pilot. "It was always a dream for me,” he said. “If you would have talked to my parents when I was little, they would have told you, "Oh Scotty, he’s going to be in the Army. He wants to fly helicopters.”

Moore’s passion for flying is so great that he turned down more money and higher rank to continue doing it. He was a captain when he went to Panama as a staff officer, and every day that he was sitting at his desk instead of in a cockpit, Moore said he was miserable and longed to get back in the air.

“When I entered the Army, I really didn’t understand what warrant officers were, and that they were the pilots who flew all the time,” he said. “My dream was to fly. If you have a dream, you have to go for it.”

So Moore went to Warrant Officer School and in May of 1998, he became a Warrant Officer One and climbed back into the cockpit, and hasn’t looked back since.

On his second deployment [in 2006], Moore said his primary mission in Iraq is to fly battlefield circulation missions throughout Iraq on a mission known as the Eagle Express. If you name a town in Iraq, Moore said he’s probably been there. He takes passengers around the country and flies on a constant basis, usually several times a week. In addition to these missions, Moore also flies combat missions, primarily Air Assaults, in which troops and equipment are moved through the air to a combat area.

Though the actual flying mission may only take a few hours, hours of preparation for the crew and on the aircraft take place before the helicopter takes off. If one is to follow him through his daily routine, one would find Moore starting to prepare for a flight at 7 p.m. around 3 p.m. as he did for his flight Feb. 5, an Eagle Express Mission. On this night, Moore, the co-pilot, would be flying with Chief Warrant Officer Four Gary Brackmeier, a veteran pilot who had been flying Chinooks since the Vietnam War era. The rest of the crew was comprised the flight engineer, crew chief and door gunner.

When he arrived at the battalion headquarters, already in his tan flight suit, the first thing Moore did was receive the mission, which indicated where he would be flying and picking up passengers throughout Iraq on this particular mission. At this point the crew had already conducted daily flight inspections. By 4 p.m., Moore had received the brief on the weather for the flight. Next he and Brackmeier got the intelligence report, which detailed enemy activity within the last 24 hours as well as possible points of concern along the route. During this time, the pilots from all aircrafts on the evening’s mission paid close attention to Brackmeier’s wisdom as he suggested methods of avoiding certain threats in the area. By 4:15, the pilots joined their crews for the evening’s flight brief where all the people involved in the evenings mission were informed of its details and last minute details, questions and concerns were addressed. The crew then grabbed some quick chow and met at the aircraft at 6:15, giving them 45 minutes to do some pre-flight inspections, a run-up and communications check before departing at 7 p.m.

“You can always give time back, you can’t get it back,” Brackmeier advised.

From 7 to almost 11 p.m., Moore and Brackmeier picked up and transported Soldiers throughout Iraq, before returning to COB Speicher for post-flight inspections and the end of the mission. He said the typical Eagle Express mission usually runs between three and six hours, meaning the workdays of the pilots and crew often last 12 hours or more.

The mission was flown entirely under night vision goggles, which is something Moore said he enjoys. “As soon as you fly with them once, you realize you’re either a night vision guy or not a night vision guy,” he said. “I love flying with them.”

After all these years of flying, Moore is about to reach yet another milestone in his career. Already a certified UH-1 instructor pilot, Moore is about to be evaluated to become a PC (Pilot in Command). When a pilot starts flying, he starts as a PI (pilot), with a certain readiness level based on the amount of hours they have flown and the level of proficiency they demonstrate to the standardization pilots. Moore will once again make the jump to PC level in yet another aircraft, meaning his senior pilots have enough confidence in his knowledge and ability to operate Chinooks that they will give him a comprehensive flight test for the chance to become a PC. A PC is in charge of the aircraft.

After 14 years of flying, there is one more flight Moore is looking forward to– “the flight home at the end of this deployment.” Back home to Tennessee, to his wife and children.