Helicopter flies cadets to training exercise

By Drew Teague

Two military aircrafts landed on the Main Building Lawn Friday to help out a UK program.

UK’s Army ROTC was heading to a joint military exercise on Friday, and officials in the program got the Army National Guard to give the top 20 cadets a lift in two Black Hawk helicopters.

Captain Joey Orr, MS3 instructor at the UK Army ROTC program, said the top 20 cadets came from the Order of Merit List, which is determined by grades, performance in physical training and participation in the program. He said they earned the right to be taken to the base by helicopter. Others were transported to the base by bus.

“This weekend we (had) our field training exercise,” Orr said. “In the spring we do it jointly with the University of Louisville. We do it at the Harold Disney Training Center, out in Barborville, Ky.”

Orr said this is not a side of the Army most cadets see while in the ROTC program at UK, but its goal is to show cadets their options in the Army.

“It should excite them not only about their future as Army officers, but what the potential has for that future as leaders in the Army,” Orr said. “This is just one way to show (the cadets) the Army’s aviation side of the house.  It’s our job to give them at least some type of knowledge on what all those options are, so it can help make up their minds.

“The aviators inside the aircraft are proficient in their skills — they came last week and surveyed the landing zone out there, and they know exactly how to come in.”

Captain Stephen Martin, a member of Kentucky National Guard’s Bravo Company 2147 Aviation out of Frankfort, agreed with Orr, saying everything for Friday’s landing was planned out in advance.

“We had a good plan,” Martin said. “Obviously, flying into downtown Lexington with all the trees and everything, we take it slow and make sure we do everything safe.”

The Black Hawks landed just after 10 a.m., intriguing passers-by as it took more than 10 minutes to completely shut down the helicopters after touchdown. While cadets were waiting on the aircraft, they took pictures, as most had not seen a helicopter up close.

Once the helicopters were shut down, the cadets were able to approach the vehicle and got a 40-minute crash course on safety in the aircraft they would travel in for the next hour.

Martin said it was great to be able to help the ROTC program and give the cadets a new experience.

“It was an experience, it’s cool,” Martin said. “This is a cool Friday to be able to come in and land on UK’s campus, because a lot of times we only do our training areas, supporting the troops. Getting to support the ROTC troops is fun.”

Both Orr and Martin said the cadets do not get to do things like this often, so it was going to be an experience the cadets remember for a while.

“These (cadets) don’t get much of an opportunity to do it,” Martin said. “We love supporting them as well and helping giving them their training and make it as realistic and raw as possible.”

Just before 11 a.m., the cadets loaded onto the aircrafts as they started back up. At about 11 a.m. the Black Hawks lifted off from the Main Lawn and headed south, off to their training for the weekend.