MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced,) 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, practiced external lift training at night aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Oct. 14.
The squadron conducted the training to maintain proficiency in transporting external cargo.
“It’s definitely a perishable skill if you don’t practice it,” said Capt. Taylor Couch, a CH-53E Super Stallion pilot with VMM-166 (Rein.) “It’s one of the more complicated tasks we do, especially at night, so it’s good to periodically train to keep that skill sharp.”
The Marines practiced lifting, flying with, and disconnecting a 6,200 pound steel girder during their flight.
“The training allowed us to increase our readiness so that we can provide the fleet with heavy lift capabilities,” said Cpl. Kevin McCorkendale, a crew chief with VMM-166 (Rein.)
“You notice it when you have something heavy underneath you. You can tell that the helicopter is working.”
Marines with the squadron worked with Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 13 to facilitate the ground-side of the training. This is one of the first times both units have worked together since being composited to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Force.
“It takes a lot of crew coordination,” said Couch. “The crew chief has the best awareness of where the load is because he is looking underneath the aircraft and will give the pilot directions on where to place the aircraft in a hover. Additionally, the team from CLB-13 is on the ground giving you hand signals, and telling you if the conditions are unsafe, then you need to wave off or try again. Out of all the things we do, this is probably the most communication we ever get between the pilot and the crew chief.”