New flight route allows Marines to fly closer to base | Community Spirit
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – A new approved flight training route will allow Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 to conduct local terrain flight operations in the airspace above and adjacent to the eastern, uninhabited part of the base.
The move could potentially result in savings in terms of man-hours, flight time and fuel cost. An estimated $300,000 per year can be saved based on training numbers and annual fuel rate costs taken per trip.
Pilots train during the year with terrain flights to remain current on certifications. Previously, these flights occurred through uninhabited areas near Thomaston, Ga., the Flint River and sites north of Atlanta at an altitude of 50 to 200 feet above the ground.
The flights also required two aircraft; one flying at a higher altitude, while a second flies at a lower altitude just above the trees. The helicopter flying higher essentially acts as a lookout for the second aircraft below.
“We use terrain flights in order to avoid detection by enemy radars,” said Lt. Col. Philip “Tank” Eilertson, Marine Aircraft Group 49 Detachment A commanding officer. “That’s the reason we practice – to fly low in order to avoid both radar detection and visible detection from enemy aircraft.”
The local terrain route east of Robins will now use only one helicopter, which will save on flight times associated with two aircraft travelling longer distances, man-hours and fuel. A second helicopter is not needed since the Robins Control Tower can be used for any safety calls.
“With this training required every 90 days, it gives us the flexibility should we have competing priorities,” said Eilertson.
The process to conduct terrain flights near Robins included an environmental study approved by the Air Force.
HMLA-773, which falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 49, is the Marine Corps Reserve’s only attack helicopter squadron.
The Robins detachment currently includes UH-1Y Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras in its inventory