By Buddy Blouin
If you’re looking to join the military and take to the skies, then you’re likely thinking about the U.S. Air Force. But there are other branches that also help defend our airspace for a more comprehensive form of defense. Army Aviation is a perfect example. Soldiers primarily are called upon to defend physical land on the battlefield for America and its allies. But there is more to their call of duty. If you’re looking for where else you may find them—just look up!

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How Army Aviation Helps America Rule the Skies

Army Aviation also works to defend airspace for the American Armed Forces, so, it stands to reason that, of course, there are going to be some similarities with the Air Force. Nevertheless, the Soldiers that serve as Army Aviators play an important role in defending America:
  • Using a variety of aircraft including planes, drones, helicopters, and more, Army Aviation helps defend however is needed by gaining a tactical advantage in the air over our enemies.
  • Soldiers use the air to conduct missions and gather intelligence. Information is critical for communication, strategy, and striking an opponent. Everything from gathering intel about enemy attacks to conducting area reconnaissance is in play here.
  • An Army Aviator may also help maintain aerial fleets. After all, you can be the best pilot in the world, but if you have shotty aircraft, you’ll also be at a disadvantage.
  • There are a variety of mission types to focus on. Sure, combat is important, but Army Aviation also takes part in humanitarian efforts as well as search and rescue missions. When justice or aid is needed and defense is necessary, you’ll find Soldiers on the ground and also up above.
This may be a high-level approach, all puns intended, but the numerous roles of the Army are quite diverse. The idea that Soldiers also take to the skies proves this merit. To perform their different functions, there are also a variety of skills necessary to make such missions a success.

Joining the Skies as a Soldier

If you’re looking to earn your Army Aviation wings, you’re going to have to prove you have what it takes. To earn the Army Aviator Badge, you’ll need to pass the training and testing conducted at the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence, located at Fort Rucker in Alabama. It’s here that the U.S. Army forges its tremendous group of flying Soldiers and issues badges that come in three degrees known as: Basic, Senior, and Command/Master/Chief. Following your six-week Warrant Officer Flight School, you’ll become an Aviation Warrant Officer. From here, you’ll go on to help solve the various technical issues in accordance with your training, and advise and train others. Additional roles also include being a Helicopter Pilot Warrant Officer or Airplane Pilot Warrant Officer.

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Airborne Soldiers, Visit the Museum Paying Tribute

If you haven’t already, a trip to the United States Army Aviation Museum is a great way to learn more about this unique role in the military. The US Army Aviation Museum has more than 160 military aircraft on 70,000 square feet of its property. This includes both inside and outside attractions, such as one of the largest collections of military helicopters anywhere on the planet. You can find the evolution of the Army’s aerial pursuits including their assistance in the creation of modern flight. Since 1956, the museum has been preserving the history of Army Aviators and continues to do so with a variety of exhibits including its:
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Army Aviation Hall of Fame
  • “Bravo Blues” 1st of the 9th Cavalry
  • Dustoff
  • Super 68
  • Statuary
  • Miss Clawd IV
  • The Louisiana Maneuvers
  • And many other exhibits and showcases.
You’ll find the museum at 6000 Novosel St, Fort Rucker, AL 36362, from Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Saturday 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Although closed for most Federal holidays, it is open on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. Admission is free but donations are accepted. You can also enjoy an online virtual tour and the tours in person are self-guided.

Are Aviator Sunglasses Authorized in Army Uniform?

Ultimately, sunglasses are only allowed on the battlefield or in uniform when allowed by your Commanding Officer (CO). Even then, there are certain stipulations that apply including possible health exceptions and the type of lenses you are allowed to wear. Therefore, wearing aviators while in an Army uniform is at the CO’s discretion. To be fair, the role of Soldiers working in the skies is less of a fashion show and more of a case for national defense. Thankfully, the Soldiers that maintain these roles continue to do a great job of keeping us safe and advancing their skills to remain superior to our adversaries. Even if you can’t look like you're on a movie set with aviator sunglasses, becoming a part of Army Aviation remains a unique path for a Soldier. Considering you’ll be flying the most elite aircraft in the world, it’s also a great opportunity to gain meaningful experience and training through flight school for an aviation career as a civilian after serving.

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