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Flying the Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter – The Armory Life | The Global Today

Since its inception within the early Sixties, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter has been a logo of energy, adaptability and endurance on the planet of aviation. With its unmistakable tandem rotor design and unparalleled raise capability, the Chinook persistently demonstrated its means to carry out in a variety of demanding conditions, from navy operations to catastrophe aid and past. On this article, Will Dabbs, MD delves into the fascinating historical past of the CH-47, examines its distinctive design options, and explores how this outstanding plane developed over the many years to stay a important asset in each navy and civilian purposes across the globe.

A U.S. Military CH-47 Chinook helicopter departs a touchdown zone after unloading troopers from 173rd Infantry Brigade Fight Staff (Airborne) Picture: Spc. Glenn M. Anderson/U.S. Military

In my day, at the least, when it was time to seek out out what kind of tactical plane you’ll fly, the U.S. Military didn’t make a very huge deal about it. Although the remainder of our navy careers turned on the announcement, all of us simply gathered in a classroom towards the top of flight faculty at Fort Rucker, and our firm commander learn the outcomes off of a pc printout. We had been then left to be both elated or crushed because the scenario dictated. I used to be personally crushed.

captain will dabbs chinook
The writer spent a lot of his youth in U.S. Military Aviation, with a good period of time within the CH-47D. Ensure additionally to learn his article Flying with the U.S. Military’s Excessive Altitude Rescue Staff.

Not in so many phrases, however I informed the Military I wished to fly something within the stock besides CH-47D Chinooks. I collected machine weapons and had grown up studying all the pieces I may discover about World Conflict II fighter planes. I selected the U.S. Military over the Air Drive as a result of I assumed assault helicopters had been extra akin to P-38 Lightnings than may be F-15 fighters. I wished to fly an airplane, not handle a bunch of methods. I had hoped that helicopter gunships would possibly scratch that itch. After which I acquired Chinooks.

soldiers deploy from ch-47 chinook in vietnam
On October 26, 1967, U.S. troopers from the 4th Infantry Division deploy from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Quang Ngai Province, 8 kilometers west of Duc Pho, Republic of Vietnam. Picture: NARA

It’s bizarre, the U.S. Military. I truly did fairly nicely in flight faculty, and my instructors all endorsed me for weapons. The Chinook transition was fairly the fascinating slot, it was merely that I didn’t need it. There have been different guys who acquired Snakes however wished Chinooks. I all the time suspected Uncle Sam simply hated us for some unfathomable purpose.

ch-47 delivers bridge span in vietnam
A CH-47 helicopter hovers with a bridge span over a stream close to Quang Tri as Vietnamese servicemen and Marines work to position the brand new bridge. Picture: Pfc. E. E. Hildreth/U.S.M.C.

Anyway, as a soldier, you might be skilled to not get what you need, so we simply sucked it up and moved on. After which I truly strapped on a CH-47D, and I spotted what all of the fuss was about. The Chinook was a merely magnificent machine.

us army paratroopers load into a ch-47 chinook on a nato training mission
U.S. Military paratroopers board a CH-47 Chinook throughout a combined-arms live-fire train with NATO allies on March 28, 2014. Picture: Gertrud Zach/U.S. Military

In helicopters, pace and maneuverability are a operate of energy, not aerodynamics. The Chinook has scads of that. My variations packed an combination 9,000 shaft horsepower into two Lycoming turboshaft engines. That made the large Chinook depraved quick.

chinook delivers m777 howitzer
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter completes the drop of an M777 Howitzer throughout Train Dynamic Entrance 18. Picture: U.S. Military

VNE (Velocity by no means to exceed) for a CH-47D was 170 knots, or about 195 miles per hour. The Blackhawk and Apache had been sooner, however solely in a dive. The Chinook would stroll away from them each in stage flight. I truly did that myself a number of occasions simply to show some extent. When deftly wielded, the CH-47D would activate a dime as nicely.

ch-47 black cat on training mission in germany
A “Black Cat” CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew assigned to 1st Cavalry Division prepares to land on the Hohenfels Coaching Space, Germany. Picture: Sgt. Gregory T. Summers/U.S. Military

Most standard helicopters are slaves to tailwinds. The tail rotor on a standard helicopter is simply there to counteract important rotor torque and preserve the machine pointed in the precise path. No matter energy is required to maintain that factor spinning is basically wasted. In contrast, the large twin counter-rotating rotors on the Chinook funnel all that energy into raise. It additionally doesn’t a lot care what path it’s pointed. I as soon as held a Chinook at a stationary hover in a mountain move in Alaska and skim 73 knots on the airspeed indicator.

ch-47 ground refueling in snow
Sgt. Shane Outlaw (left) and Employees Sgt. Anquan Bagley ship gasoline to a CH-47 from a fueling and re-arming level (FARP) throughout a NATO coaching train. Picture: Sgt. Gregory T. Summers/U.S. Military

Semi-rigid rotor methods like these of the Cobra or Huey can’t be operated at lower than one-half of 1 constructive G. Unloading the rotors, like hugging terrain at pace whereas flying NOE (nap of the earth) throughout a hilltop, could cause them to return aside. In contrast, the fully-articulated system on the Chinook feasted on unfavourable G’s. In accordance with the simulator, a CH-47D will execute a splendid aileron roll, although I’ve by no means tried that myself in the actual world.


The D-model CH-47 tops out at 50,000 kilos and is 98 ft lengthy from rotor tip to rotor tip. It options seatbelts for 33 fight troops, however can carry tons extra in a pinch. The fuselage is 52 ft lengthy, and every rotor blade spans 30 ft. Whereas weight and stability are all the time vital in helicopters, I discovered that the Chinook would carry most something you may stuff into it.

ch-47 delivers water trailer and supplies to the 101st airborne in vietnam
In September 1967, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter lowers a water trailer to troopers of the a hundred and first Airborne Brigade within the Tam Ky space, Republic of Vietnam. Picture: NARA

The service ceiling for the CH-47D is listed as 20,000 ft, however I’ve personally taken one to only shy of 22k. The plane has mounts for 3 defensive machine weapons. Ours had been sucktastic D-model M60 machine weapons. These days, they use M240 weapons. The Evening Stalkers of the 160th SOAR (Particular Operations Aviation Regiment) function Dillon M134D miniguns. These are undeniably attractive cool, however an electrically-powered machine gun is simply ballast if {the electrical} system fails or is shot away.

us army paratroopers jump from a ch-47 chinook
Paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Infantry Brigade Fight Staff (Airborne) conduct a coaching soar from a CH-47 Chinook on Feb. 10, 2014. Picture: Gertrud Zach/U.S. Military

In contrast to lesser U.S. Military helicopters, the Chinook is a incredible instrument platform. The AFCS (Superior Flight Management System) will fly the plane hands-off in cruise mode. Heading adjustments may be simply effected just by turning a knob on the instrument panel that orients a heading bug on the HSI (Horizontal Scenario Indicator). I’m certain all that’s digital in the present day. All the flight devices are completely replicated on either side of the cockpit, so the machine is equally pleasant from both seat.

CH-47F Chinook Technical Specs

Listed here are the revealed Chinook specs:

Crew3 (2 pilots, 1 flight engineer)
Load Carrying Capability33 troops or 24 litters
Size, General98′
Size, Fuselage52′
Weight, Empty24,578 lbs
Weight, Most Takeoff50,000 lbs
Powerplant2x Lycoming T55-GA-714A turboshaft engines with 4,733 SHP every
Velocity, by no means to exceed170 knots
Service Ceiling20,000′
Armament3x M240 machine weapons

Pilot Stuff

The tandem rotor design of the CH-47D gives sure advantages not afforded by lesser plane. With slightly apply, a talented pilot may trigger the machine to pivot exactly across the ahead rotor head, the aft head, or the cargo hook within the center. An awe-inspiring spiraling vertical liftoff executed at most energy settings was known as a Black Cat takeoff. No different machine may actually do this.

us soldiers load into a ch-47 chinook
U.S. troopers of the twelfth Fight Aviation Brigade load a CH-47 Chinook helicopter whereas conducting chilly load coaching throughout train Saber Junction 15. Picture: Pfc. Shardesia Washington/U.S. Military

Pinnacle landings had been uniquely cool. With the flight engineer offering steerage the aft touchdown gear might be exactly situated on a mountaintop or one thing related. Then by setting the cyclic to the rear, the pilot may plant the aft gear after which use the thrust (what could be the collective in a lesser plane) to regulate pitch and keep station. The identical approach might be used to taxi the large helicopter on its again two wheels. The Chinook additionally made a terrific paradrop platform. You could possibly really feel slightly bump by way of your seat each time one of many heavily-laden paratroopers left the aft ramp.

The CH-47D had three cargo hooks and will carry three separate exterior sling masses. I as soon as browned out in an particularly dry LZ and let the plane drift. My flight engineer correctly punched off the 105mm howitzer I used to be carrying earlier than it may snag within the timber. I mangled the gun and felt terrible about that. Nonetheless, due to my crew canines I didn’t die, so there’s that.

Practicalities of the Chinook

U.S. Military doctrine, at the least in my day earlier than there have been so many blasted drones, was to push the tactical plane as near the entrance as doable. That meant we lived out of our machines. We truly affectionately referred to the CH-47D because the Boeing Hilton. With a lot area, there was loads of room for the crew to decrease the sling seats and use them as cots. I’ve spent weeks on finish residing out of my plane. After an prolonged interval within the subject, the within of the plane begins to appear to be a homeless encampment, however it’s nonetheless higher than the choice.

ch-47 chinook in flight
A CH-47 Chinook flies over seventh Military Coaching Command’s Grafenwoehr Coaching Space throughout an artillery operability train. Picture: Sarah Tate/U.S. Military

Operations within the Arctic convey their very own distinctive challenges. Because the machine is principally a giant aluminum tube, it doesn’t take lengthy for the plane to grow to be cold-soaked at fifty under zero. Our arctic sleeping luggage had been as much as the duty, nevertheless it was all the time a intestine verify to see who was going to be the primary out of their fart sack to go crank the auxiliary energy unit and get that 200,000-BTU heater cooking. That pet ran off of jet gasoline and would render the Boeing Hilton mosty toasty very quickly, irrespective of how ghastly it was exterior.

ch-47 helicopters in training with uh-60 blackhawks
CH-47 Chinook, HH-60 and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crews of the first Cavalry Division take off throughout coaching in Germany. Picture: Sgt. Gregory T. Summers/U.S. Military

I later acquired to fly each AH-1S Cobras and OH-58A/C helicopters. I realized to fly on Vietnam-era UH-1H Hueys in flight faculty. The Huey had the nostalgia, and the Snake the intercourse attraction. Driving Aeroscouts single-pilot with the doorways off was like flying a motorbike. Nonetheless, nothing can examine to the feeling of energy you get while you tug the up stick in a CH-47D and really feel these 9,000 horses kick you within the butt. That was a wild trip, certainly.

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