Crew members from Company C 248th Aviation Support Battalion, Iowa Army National Guard, take part in a hot refueling exercise at the Carroll Airport Friday afternoon. Seven Black Hawk helicopters took part in the exercise.
Crew members from Company C 248th Aviation Support Battalion, Iowa Army National Guard, take part in a hot refueling exercise at the Carroll Airport Friday afternoon. Seven Black Hawk helicopters took part in the exercise.
April 8, 2014



One by one, seven Black Hawk helicopters touched down on a Carroll airport runway early Friday afternoon.

Members of the Iowa National Guard Unit in Boone were originally scheduled to rendezvous with Sioux City-based ground troops at the Carroll Airport for training exercises, but Friday's snowy weather prevented the latter contingent from making the trip.

However, the refueling team from Boone was already en route, so the training exercise continued with helicopter pilots returning to Boone rather than continuing on to Camp Dodge.

Charlie Company, the unit flying the Black Hawks, is preparing for deployment to Kuwait, said Sgt. Tyson Brian, leader of the refueling unit. The purpose of Friday's training exercise in Carroll was to practice a hot fueling exercise in which the machines are refueled while the engines and blades are still running.

"Overseas we'd be doing this in cover, not out in the open," Brian said. "It's an everyday operation for deployed troops."

It also gave his team an opportunity to test its trucks, driving two heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks and one regular high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, commonly known as a Humvee, to Carroll in convoy formation. If deployed, the team would be accompanied by a second Humvee, as guns are not transported on the larger fuel-carrying trucks, Brian added.

His unit typically has refueling training exercises six times per year. The original training, rescheduled for last Sunday, includes work with the ground troops on loading and unloading the helicopters.

The Black Hawk is a utility helicopter, explained Sgt. Robert Patterson. It is used primarily to transport troops, equipment and supplies.

Though it can be a gun ship, it is not designed for air combat, Patterson added. An air assault company rides to defend the pilots and their cargo when traveling through a dangerous region.

Each Black Hawk used about 150 gallons of jet propellant 8 fuel during the training exercise.

Brian said his unit usually practices on an abandoned airstrip in Hawarden. Friday was the first time he had been to Carroll.

Though they landed individually and refueled two at a time, the helicopters left the airport in one coordinated ascent.

Carroll Airport manager Don Mensen said Black Hawk pilots sometimes use the runways to practice takeoff and landing. However, he described seeing seven "birds" on his rural airstrip as "rare."

"To have so many at the same time is unique," he said, adding that he would "certainly not be opposed" to hosting future Guard training exercises.