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N.Y. Guard Provides Helicopter Training to Canadian Aircrews

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone
Special to American Forces Press Service

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 27, 2009 – New York Army National Guard members offered hands-on CH-47 Chinook helicopter training to Canadian air force aircrews readying for deployment at a flight facility here last week.

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Army Capt. Eric Fritz, left, and Canadian air force Capt. Martin LeFrancois sit in the cockpit of a New York Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter prior to a night flight outside of the Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Rochester, N.Y., Jan. 20, 2009. Courtesy photo
  

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Aviation soldiers from the Guard’s Company B, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, who returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan in April, used their Chinooks and the upstate New York snow to train the Canadians on Afghan flying conditions.

The snow was a stand-in for the ubiquitous Afghan dust, Army Capt. Eric Fritz, instructor pilot for the battalion, explained. Fritz put together a two-week training program to prepare the Canadians for an upcoming Afghan deployment.

Members of the Canadian air force’s 408th and 430th Tactical Helicopter Squadrons will be operating Chinooks in theater. The Canadian aircraft already are 6,000 miles away in place in Afghanistan.

“Everybody jumped at the opportunity to provide the training and transmit Company B’s experience and information to the Canadians,” Army Col. Michael Bobeck, aviation officer, said. “It makes everybody operate safer and allows us to accomplish the mission.”

The first week of training focused on classroom briefings, battlefield scenarios and daylight-flying operations, and the second week was spent perfecting night-flying skills. The training plan culminated with a simulated air assault. All training flights took place within 100 miles of the flight facility here.

Landing and taking off in the light snowfall provided the Canadians with the same experience they’ll get coping with the ever-present dust in Afghanistan, Fritz said.

“The New York National Guard has been very accommodating, because it’s all been last-minute for us,” Canadian air force Capt. Martin LeFrancois, 430th Squadron, said. “Now that we have six Chinooks waiting for us in Afghanistan, the training program that they prepared for us will be really beneficial.”

(Army Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone serves in the New York National Guard.)

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New York Army National Guard

Click photo for screen-resolution imageCanadian air force Capt. Sylvie Coutoure, CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilot, performs preflight checks aboard a New York Army National Guard aircraft at the Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Rochester, N.Y., Jan. 21, 2009. Courtesy photo   
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