Lakota surpasses 100,000th Flight Hour at JMRC
By John Leon, JMRC Public Affairs
Photo Credit: U.S. Army Sgt. Carol A. Lehman
Hohenfels, Germany (May 22, 2012)-- During a recent training exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, the UH-72A Lakota surpassed the 100,000 flight hour milestone.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christopher Ezell and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Lacrosse were piloting the Lakota, while Spc. James Harrison was serving as Crew Chief when it surpassed the 100,000-hour threshold.
All three are members of the Falcon Observer/Controller-Trainer team that provides a tough and realistic environment for visiting units to train in. The Falcon team also replicates attack, lift, and MEDEVAC capabilities in the training area, which is what the men were doing when the Lakota surpassed the 100,000-flight hour mark.
As the military’s newest aircraft, only 200 Lakotas are in use today. Lacrosse has been flying the helicopter for almost a year and a half, while Ezell has only been qualified on the UH-72A since August of last year.
About the Lakota, Lacrosse said, “The Lakota is a very easy helicopter to fly. We have two Garmin GPS systems that direct our flights and it is easy to maneuver because of the light weight.”
Ezell joked that they are “monitors, more than pilots” while flying the aircraft because it has such modern equipment in the cockpit that it seems to fly itself.
Both its advanced technology in the cockpit and the light weight are upgrades from the Army’s previous utility workhorse, the UH-1.
The Lakota served as the successor to the UH-1 Iroquois that had been the U.S. Army’s main medical evacuation and utility helicopter since the 1950s. Commonly known to the public as the “Huey”, the Iroquois became a symbol of the War in Vietnam and is perhaps the most recognizable military aircraft ever.
Both pilots of the milestone 100,000-hour flight were happy to be flying the new Lakota and stated that, when the switch was made, it was like going from the 70s to modern day.
Although neither pilot realized they were approaching the flight hour milestone until later being told, both Lacrosse and Ezell were proud to have been the pilots that accomplished it while flying missions in support of multinational training at JMRC.