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NEWS | April 24, 2022

Aviators Get Dunked

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Wilhoit, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers within various units of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade (TAB) attended the Shallow Water Egress Trainer course on April 6-7, 2022.

The course put Soldiers in a chamber resembling the troop area of a UH-60 Black hawk helicopter that submerged and flipped over in an indoor pool. The training given allowed the Soldiers to develop survival skills that could save their lives if they were ever in a helicopter crash over water.

"The purpose of this course is to provide pilots, crew members, and passengers with the necessary skills in case they were to find themselves in a situation with their aircraft in the water," said Chris Smith, the facilities manager for Survival Systems USA, located at Fort Campbell, Ky. "Any aviator runs the risk when flying over water to lose control and inadvertently end up in the water."

The TAB Soldiers underwent two full days of training in scenarios simulating UH-60 submerged aircraft. The training consists of several hours of classroom instruction and gear familiarization followed by a live application of techniques in the pool.

The live application starts with Soldiers sitting in individual seats within a float-lined cage. The instructors then flip the seat over to get the Soldiers used to the experience of being inverted and to associate them with life-saving equipment such as using a fresh air tank to breathe while inverted.

After the single-seat training, the Soldiers move to the Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer, the simulated UH-60 Black Hawk crew area known as the ‘Dunker’. The UH-60 is lowered into the pool with Soldiers inside and rotates upside down once submerged in water.


Soldiers must then use the skills and techniques learned to get out of the simulator. Most Soldiers explained that the ability to stay calm while underwater is the key to successfully escaping a submerged aircraft.
This process is then repeated with the lights off and the large fans turned on. This is to simulate a severe weather situation, to ensure Soldiers have the training they need in the event the helicopter goes down due to bad weather.

Using the skills, they have been taught the Soldiers have to find their way out of the submerged helicopter and to safety in a “hurricane” like scenario

"This training is very important if we are to find ourselves in an underwater situation that may be life or death, that wouldn't be the first time we've encountered that scenario.," said Sgt. First Class Nathan Downer, crew chief with Bravo Co. 2/147th Assault Helicopter Battalion.


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