Army Chinook Invades Olney Airport
On Sunday, March 17, I was piloting Cemco’s company plane accompanied by Cory Fuksa. We were returning from Llano. When we were just west of Graham, I could hear someone over the plane’s communication radio, saying that they were an Army helicopter and they were going to be entering the pattern to land on Runway 13 in Olney. I was thinking to myself; there is no way that an Army helicopter is landing in Olney. As I proceeded to the airport, I continued to hear him call out his position in the pattern and eventually he was down. I was about five minutes behind him, and I too landed and made my way over to the fixed-base operator (FBO); and sure enough, there was a Chinook helicopter sitting right there with approximately 12 soldiers standing around.
The soldiers already had taken off the cowling around one of the engines. I was amazed at the sight of this aircraft. I had to get a closer look. I walked up to whom I thought was the pilot and asked if he knew where he was. We got a laugh out of that. He then started to talk to me all about the helicopter and asked if I wanted to walk through it and look around. I jumped all over the opportunity to get inside this machine. It was incredible, and all the soldiers were extremely nice and willing to answer my questions.
The soldiers were on a training mission that originated at Fort Sill and would be deploying soon. No telling where to but it was clear that they couldn’t speak of it. They stopped in Olney to perform a routine check of the aircraft engines.
One of the most remarkable things that the pilot talked to me about was the autopilot control accuracy. The pilot said that the helicopter could hold itself to 12 inches from one spot anywhere in the 48 states. That’s impressive. He continued to tell me that it has a useful payload of 11,000 lbs. One of the soldiers said they could fit 2 Humvees inside. It flies at a blistering 160 knots (KTS) with an overall gross weight of 50,000 pounds. For something this size and shape, that’s incredible. Everything checked out, and soon they were going to continue their mission.
It was an exciting day to be out at the airport. Aviation brings people together from all different backgrounds because we share one common thing, the love of flight.