THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO THE PILOTS OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE WHO FLY OR HAVE FLOWN AIR FORCE HELICOPTERS BOTH IN PEACE TIME AND DURING ARMED CONFLICT
Helicopter Pilots are often referred to the "Guys In Front" (GIF). These daring souls seem to always have both hands and both feet moving while controlling the helicopter at the same time listening to the various radios, changing frequencies, watching the weather and keeping an eye on all the cockpit gauges. If this alone isn't enough, put him at the controls on a dark rainy night out over some ship or over the trees of some jungle holding the helicopter in a hover while attempting to accomplish a hoist pickup. Now, in addition to all the aforementioned actions he now must rely on the directions he receives from the "Guy In Back" (GIB), as the pickup is accomplished, in order to maintain a steady hover or providing guidance to avoid trees or other obstacles that may damage the helicopter and affect its ability to perform properly. He is constantly concerned with keeping the helicopter within prescribe operating limitations to ensure it will accomplish the job. He is able to make critical decisions in a short period of time to determine hover capabilities and fuel remaining in order to effectively and safely accomplish the mission. After some time this all becomes pretty much routine and second nature in the life of a "chopper pilot".
Having said that now he finds himself in one of those tricky situations where he may be able to land with only one gear or skid on the side of a cliff or the top of some rock in order to accomplish the mission. Then throw into the picture the "bad guys" on the ground that are attempting to foil the rescue attempt by any means which usually means all sorts of ground fire to include automatic weapons and often mortars being lobbed into the landing zone (LZ).
These brave souls, sitting in plain view of the bad guys with only some plexi-glass between them and the outside. They always managed to maintain their presence and concentrate on getting the job done.
These same pilots may find themselves hovering over a crashed and burning aircraft, hovering extremely close to the fire. This action is a delicate one at best as the pilot must keep his aircraft in a position that the rotor wash will fan the flames back allowing the ground rescue crew effect a safe recovery. While all this is going on he is monitoring cockpit gauges, the outside area and also having in mind that the aircraft may be carrying explosive ordnance that may blow at anytime.
Air Force Helicopter pilots are without a doubt some of the greatest folks one would ever want to know. They are dedicated, hard working and have that "Git-R-Done" attitude. A proud and professional group of individuals.