Joint service members converged on Joint Base San Antonio-Chapman Annex to formally confirm the suitability of helicopter landing zones in order to expand the maneuver space for vertical lift operations and improve home-station training for San Antonio’s military units.
As San Antonio continues to develop out from the city’s center, outlying areas that were once remote are now impacted by the encroachment of land development. This expansion places additional pressure on nearby military training activities to consider noise, light, traffic volume, safety and other environmental factors.
Texas Army National Guard‘s Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, a unit of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters that routinely trains with JB San Antonio units at Martindale Army Airfield in southeast San Antonio, have been affected by these factors and have partnered with JB San Antonio to find a solution.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bill Sierra, C/2-149th AV standardization pilot, led the initiative to expand training at JB San Antonio-Chapman Annex.
“We are a habitual partner with JB San Antonio – often training with medical, aerial transportation, and security forces units,” he said. “Having additional maneuver space so close to Martindale Army Airfield increases the amount of time we can train on-site with our JB San Antonio partners, diversifies the scenarios that can be exercised, and provides a reliable way for our aircrews to sustain proficiency on external loads.”
“For our federal and state missions, we are required to maintain the capability of conducting external sling load missions-both for a combat scenario overseas and for the state of Texas in an emergency management event,” he said. “Encroachment around Martindale Army Airfield was affecting this.”
Sierra said the company has successfully conducted a four-phase proof-of-concept to verify the suitability of JB San Antonio-Chapman Annex with a ground survey, an overflight, an aerial survey, landing passengers, and finally landing external loads.”
During the proof-of-concept phases, the joint team transported 20,000 pounds of materiel and 22 personnel across 15 sorties to validate the suitability of the maneuver area for multi-service vertical-lift operations.
“The JB San Antonio staff and tenants were very supportive, and worked very quickly to coordinate the approvals,” Sierra said. “It was amazing how quickly we went from walking the field to having an aircraft safely conduct training. With this success, we now have the capability to expand our training partnership with JB San Antonio.”
Sierra said the partnership opens doors for the unit and their JB San Antonio partners to advance readiness together, along with the 36th General Support Aviation Battalion, for other lift and assault activities.
“The possibilities are endless at this point for mutually-beneficial training on our mission-essential task lists in this joint environment,” he said.
Tech. Sgt. Christopher LaPlant,