The Aviation lab we were able to have last semester was one
of the most exciting things we’ve ever done in the Buckeye Battalion. Besides
getting a pretty exclusive ride over the city of Columbus, we cadets were also
fortunate enough to be exposed to some new information from the Aviators
themselves. The thought of branching Aviation has come across more than a few
minds. The problem is, a lot of people don’t know enough about it. What does an
Aviation officer do? What kind of training goes into it? How can I get to this
point from where I am now? LT Dixon was kind enough to give some of this info
during the lab, but in case you may have forgotten it, below is some basics of
what you need to know about Army Aviation.
What to know about
You have a few options, but the most common is either
branching Active Duty or branching into the Ohio National Guard. Branching into
the Reserves is possible, but no one in the Battalion has a whole lot of experience
To branch Active
Duty: As you can imagine, it’s a highly competitive field. The biggest
thing you can do is try to stay as high on the OML as possible. Just like the
other branches, you won’t really know that you have it until Draft Day comes.
You will also need to take the SIFT and have a flight physical done before
submitting Aviation as your preference. Preferably, this should be before the
end of your MS III year.
To branch into the
Ohio National Guard: This is the route I personally am taking, so I can
tell you a lot more information about this. When it came to deciding between
Active Duty and Guard/Reserves, I felt that the constant relocation aspect of
Active Duty was not what I wanted. When I decided to join the Guard upon
commissioning, I learned that the route to Aviation also became easier. After
meeting and speaking with LT Dixon at the Aviation lab, I found that the
process would be relatively fast and painless. If you are interested in this,
you will go through a board that consists of some Warrant Officers and
Commissioned Officers from the Ohio Aviation Unit interviewing you. If they
like you, they will select you to go to flight training and become an officer
within their unit. And bam, just like that, you have your branch. There’s no
waiting around and uncertainty like there is with Active Duty. By going this
route, I knew my branch by my Junior year, instead of having to wait until the
fall of my Senior year. No more stress about the OML, no more pressure of
rankings, no more anxiety about your future.
The board happens 4 times every year. Prior to arriving at
the board, there are some things that have to be done first. The main item is
your board packet. This is a compilation of pretty much everything about it.
Your point of contact (LT Dixon) would send you all the specifics, but it
essentially consists of your resume, cover letter, PT scores, any formal
evaluations, copy of your transcript, some other administrative forms, and
letters of recommendation. You will have 2-5 LORs. One will come from your
CeMAT, one will come from LTC Bunyak, and the others will be from whomever else
you want. They recommend you have at least one from an Aviator. I personally
chose my supervisor from my summer internship, my percussion director from
Marching Band, and a family friend/long-time pilot. All you have to do is
gather the paperwork and email it over to LT Dixon, he does all of the
organizing and submitting of the packet. The other important item is your SIFT
What is the SIFT?
The Selection Instrument Flight Test is a 3-hour test that is required to
qualify you for flight training. You get a score out of 80, but the most
important thing is to pass. Passing score is 40. The unique thing about this
test is you only get one to two opportunities to take it. The first time you
take it, if you pass, you are not able to take the test again. Whatever your
score is, that’s the score you will always have. If you fail the first time you
take the SIFT, you may take it one more time 6 months later. If you pass, this
is the score you will always have. If you fail again, you cannot take it again
and you will not become an Aviator.
It seems very intimidating, but if you prepare for it, you
will be fine. There are multiple study guides to help.
The test itself has 7 sections.
Section 1: SD (Simple Drawings): This requires you to
rapidly identify the ‘odd one out’ in a series of simple graphics. The
identification isn’t the challenging aspect – it’s the speed at which this
section must be completed. There are 100 questions to answer in 120 seconds.
Section 2: HF (Hidden Figures): Requires you to identify an
image which is hidden behind other lines and images. There are 50 questions to
answer in 5 minutes.
Section 3: AAIT (Army Aviation Information Test): A mixture
of questions on different aspects of Army Aviation. These can relate to basic
flight principles, the types of aircraft used by the army, flight controls, and
the physical components of an aircraft. There are 40 questions to answer in 30
Section 4: SAT (Spatial Apperception Test): Requires
candidates to envision the view from an aircraft cockpit depending upon the
position of the craft in relation to external geography. This is the SIFT
section most closely related to practical flight. There are 25 questions to
answer in 10 minutes.
Section 5: RCT (Reading Comprehension Test): Candidates are
presented with short textual passages. They must then choose a sentence which
accurately refers to the text. All sentences may seem possible but only one is
fully accurate. There are 20 questions to answer in 30 minutes.
Section 6: MST (Math Skills Test): The first adaptive
section, meaning the number and type of questions may vary. Topics include
order of operations, algebra, geometry and logic. The number of questions
varies to be answered in 40 minutes.
Section 7: MCT (Mechanical Comprehension Test): The second
adaptive SIFT section. Although it has a fifteen-minute time limit, the MCT is
widely regarded as one of the harder SIFT sections. Candidates are tested on
physical and mechanical principles. The number of questions varies to be
answered in 15 minutes.
Flight Training is anywhere from 15-18 months at Ft. Rucker,
Aviation Branch officers will attend Junior Officer
Professional Development Course (JOPD) and Aviation Basic Officer Leader
Courses (AVO-BOLC). This is the Leadership and Aviation-specific Branch
Training section of BOLC. In Leadership Training, you’ll train primarily in a
field environment, undergoing a series of drills based on real-life scenarios
and focusing on small-unit leadership and tactics.
In the Aviation Branch Training section, you’ll learn the
specialized skills, tactics, techniques and doctrine of your chosen branch, and
prepare for success as a future platoon leader.
THE USAACE SURVIVAL ESCAPE RESISTANCE AND EVASION (SERE-C)
For information about Survival, Evasion, Resistance and
Escape training, to include course information, the SERE Survival Booklet, the
SERE Captivity Book List, and the SERE Cultural Book List, please visit the
SERE Division’s website on Army Knowledge Online.
HOST – HELICOPTER OVERWATER SURVIVAL TRAINING (DUNKER
TRAINING) (3 DAYS)
Helicopter Overwater Survival Training prepares aircrew member
and their passengers to successfully exit an aircraft in an overwater ditching
emergency in both day and night conditions. Instructors are experienced,
skilled and dedicated to ensuring students receive the finest in water survival
instruction. Upon completion of this phase of Flight School XXI training
students will be much better prepared for an aircraft ditching.
INITIAL ENTRY ROTARY WING FLIGHT TRAINING (40-42 WEEKS)
The traditional initial entry rotary-wing flight training
model is 40-42 weeks (dependent on airframe) and consists of:
Two weeks of preflight instruction, providing students with
knowledge of basic flight control relationships, aerodynamics, weather and
Primary (Common Core) consisting of ten weeks and 50 flight
hours in the TH-67 or UH-72 training helicopter, is the primary phase. In this
phase, students learn the basic fundamentals of flight, make their first solo
flights, and learn to perform approaches and basic stage field maneuvers.
Students then progress to more complex emergency procedure training, slopes and
confined area operations.
Instruments is eight weeks of instrument training, including
30 hours in the flight simulator on the main post and 20 hours in the TH-67 or
UH-72. The student progresses from basic instrument procedures to navigation on
federal airways using FAA en route controlling agencies. Upon successful
completion of this phase, the students are instrument qualified and receive a
helicopter instrument rating upon graduation.
Basic Warfighter Skills Training (BWS) is the combat skills
and dual track phase. It is combat-mission oriented and trains the student
pilot in the OH-58 A/C or UH-72 as an aeroscout helicopter pilot. The 1-212th
Aviation Battalion teaches both tracks that include extensive night vision
goggles training and tactical night operations. Students will also complete
their specialized training to become qualified in the CH-47F or UH-60M. The
balance of the training will be conducted in the student pilot’s “Go to
War” aircraft, better preparing them for the field and giving commanders
in the field aviators who are better trained after arriving from flight school.
Your designated aircraft will be largely influenced by your
assigned facility. Soldiers assigned to AASF 2 (Columbus) will be assigned the
UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. Soldiers assigned to AASF 1 (Akron-Canton) will
be assigned the CH-47F Chinook, the LUH-72 Lakota, or the UH-60A/L Black Hawk
(Medevac). Soldiers interested in flying specific airframes are encouraged to
submit their request but will be subject to operational requirements of the
The State of Ohio also possesses a small VIP Fixed-Wing
Detachment based out of Rickenbacker ANGB, Columbus, Ohio utilizing the C-26E
Metroliner Aircraft. Selection for Fixed-Wing is a post-graduate process and
upon service in the state as a Rotary-Wing Aviator, may be selected to join the
The helicopters we flew in that day at lab were UH-60 Black
Hawks and CH-47 Chinook. The Black Hawk was intended to serve in utility, air
assault, medivac, command and control, and reconnaissance roles. The UH-60 is
equipped with troop accommodations for eight, which can be removed to
accommodate four full-sized medical litters. The Black Hawk can transport 11
fully equipped combat soldiers in an assault ready configuration, or 14 in a
maximum capacity situation. Maximum troop carrying capacity is 20 lightly
equipped personnel. The dedicated medivac variant of the Black Hawk can
accommodate 6 litters. While not equipped with any dedicated weapon systems,
the UH-60A is equipped with two pintle mounts (one each located on either side
of the airframe aft of the flight deck.) These pintles are capable of accepting
a variety of weapons, to include the M-60 GP 7.62mm machine gun, the M-240
7.62mm machine gun, the .50 caliber GAU-19/A machine gun, as well as the
General Electric M134 7.62mm 6-barreled minigun. Utilizing the ESSS system, the
UH-60A can equip up to 16 Hellfire missiles, as well as 2.75″ FFAR
(folding fin aerial rocket) rocket pods, FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles, as
well as aerial mine delivery systems, such as the volcano and the M56 mine delivery
The CH-47D Chinook is the U.S. Army’s primary heavy troop
and supply transport aircraft. The now updated version of the rotocraft can
carry a 19,500 lb load – nearly twice the Chinook’s original lift capacity. Three
machine guns can be mounted on the helicopter, two in the crew door on the
starboard side and one window-mounted on the port side. Additionally, the
helicopter is equipped with a suite of countermeasure systems, which could
include one or more of the following: a missile approach warner, jammers, radar
warner, and chaff and flare dispensers. Don’t let it’s size fool you though,
this baby has speed, too.
Just wanna attack stuff? Then the AH-64 Apache is for you. The
AH-64 Apache is the Army’s heavy division/corps attack helicopter. It conducts
rear, close, and shaping missions including deep precision strike. Conducts
distributed operations, precision strikes against relocatable targets, and
provides armed reconnaissance when required in day, night, obscured battlefield
and adverse weather conditions.
The UH-72A Lakota is a light utility helicopter specifically
designed to meet the requirements of US Army. UH-72A Lakota helicopters were
acquired to replace the UH-1H Iroquois and OH-58 A/C Kiowa helicopters.THE
UH-72A serves the army principally for logistics and support missions within
the US. It is also used by the Army National Guard for homeland security and
disaster-response missions and medical evacuations.For ambulance and medical
evacuation missions, the cabin can accommodate two stretchers, plus one crew
chief (who is qualified to operate the hoist and other aircraft equipment) and
one medical attendant. The helicopter has an externally mounted rescue electric
hoist, The hoist is mounted on a boom and support assembly that allows it to be
positioned in an arc of up to 63° from the aircraft fuselage centreline for
maximum operational flexibility. The hoist is stowed in line with the fuselage