Story by PFC Liah Kitchen on 09/09/2016Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 462 "Heavy Haulers" conducted external-lift training using a CH-53E Super Stallion in El Centro, California, Aug. 24.
During the training, Marines with a helicopter support team will attach a weighted beam to a CH-53 while the aircraft hovers above them. The aircraft will then briefly fly around the landing zone, return to the landing zone and lower the weight to the ground, allowing the HST to detach the weight. Together, the pilots and aircrew will go through this sequence of events several times.
"External lifts are our most important core skill," said Capt. Gregory Horchak, a pilot and weapons and tactics instructor with HMH-462. "Across the [Department of Defense] we are the heaviest lift asset there is."
A CH-53 has the capability to externally lift approximately 36,000 pounds, which exceeds the lift capacity of every helicopter available to the military. The Super Stallion enables Marines to transport troops, vehicles, equipment and possibly downed aircraft, as well as support a variety of civil missions.
"This training is important because it keeps our pilots and our crew members proficient, and it makes completing the mission quicker for the guys on the ground," said Cpl. Tyler Gill, a crew chief with HMH-462. "It's more important to the Marines on the ground because they're depending on us to bring them that gear."
The unit conducts this training about four times a month to keep up with training requirements for the air crews.
"This training impacts our Marines by showing them the capabilities of our aircraft, and how Marine aviation works within a Marine Air-Ground Task Force," said Gill. "It helps everybody from both the ground and air, logistical side, planning and training to stay ready."