UH 72, the Colonel Visits KCUB


Active Member
Oct 25, 2020
Columbia SC
YG4 Air Command Tandem
Total Flight Time
800 hrs
I went upstairs to do a few T&G's Wednesday around 5:30 PM, did a full stop and was pulling off the active for the evening when I heard a helo call a distant approach to the pattern KCUB. I did what any self-respecting gyro pilot would do: turned around, took the active, spun up the blades and took off, got the helo in sight, turned short cross wind to downwind and flew the close-in leg over the NS RR yard to get a good look as the helo air-taxied to the ramp. I heard another one calling a 4 mile base to final, so I landed close to he ramp, taxied over and pulled up just as #2 arrived, and air taxied to park next to #1. Here is a short clip of that, and a couple of stills.

The crew were interested in the Gunslinger, and were anxious to know what was powering it and what it could do, exclaiming, "That's no Rotax!" Being the bashfully shy, shrinking violet type...NOT! lol, I was only too happy to share.

The ranking officer was a colonel, they had arrived from Greenville and were off to dinner after topping up their bags a bit.

Cheers, guys and gal, always fun to shoot the breeze with Uncle Sam's finest.

This was my first "close flight encounter of the first kind" with a UH72, adding to my growing list which includes Huey (2 different ships, one is local here and I see the Sheriff every now and then), Kiowa (3 or 4), Chinook (LOTS of them, too many to count, almost daily in Savannah from GA39), Blackhawk (VERRRRY intimate, lol, made the Hunter Tower scream at us, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GUYS DOING OUT THERE!?!?!" with one of their pilots in my rear seat at the time, bombing the fields etc., and, again, too many birds to count), Apache (more so here in Soda City these days than down at Hunter previously), and a couple of old Cobras. Incidentally, flew abreast the "909" (B-17) maybe a hundred feet away, if that, before she sadly crashed and burned up.

Allow me to share this most recent little flying adventure with you other military helo fans, if I may.


UH-72 at KCUB 220928

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Yes it's a great machine with a long heritage - MBB Kawasaki BK117 then Eurocopter EC145 then Airbus H145 - data plates and TC still relate to the BK 117
The Lakota uses a hingeless rotor as do all the EC145 derivatives. Although I have flown the MD 900 which also has a hingeless/bearingless main rotor, I never flew the EC product. EC seems to make a fantastic helicopter and I wish I had been able to fly one.

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I've yet to fly in a UH-72. The few Army Aviators I have spoken to that fly the UH-72 enjoy the aircraft.


Pilots applaud the UH-72A Lakota

11th May 2009 - 15:00 GMT | by The Shephard News TeamRSS

Amid the impressive collection of Army airpower on display at the 2009 Army Aviation Association of America convention in Nashville, Tennessee, it was the EADS North America area of the exhibit hall that managed to steal the show.

The buzz started on May 4, the opening day of the show, with the announcement that EADS North America has assembled an industry team with Lockheed Martin and American Eurocopter to offer a new armed scout helicopter to the U.S. Army — the Armed Scout 645.

Like EADS’ UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter, the Armed Scout 645 is based on the highly successful Eurocopter EC145 commercial airframe, and will be produced at American Eurocopter’s Columbus, Mississippi, facility.

The announcement was made to a mass of reporters in front of a representative Armed Scout 645 – a UH-72 sporting desert camouflage paint, an advanced sensor ball under its nose and racks of missiles and guns mounted along its flanks. The aircraft drew crowds throughout the show.

But it was just as busy across the aisle, where pilots and maintainers from the North Carolina National Guard were showing off one of the four new Lakotas they received at the end of last year, its dark green paint still mostly pristine.

Standing by his unit’s Lakota on the convention floor, Capt. Benny Collins answered questions all week about what the Lakota brings to his mission. Collins and his colleagues fly for a Security and Support Detachment with the North Carolina National Guard out of Morrisville, North Carolina, using their Lakotas for missions including homeland security, disaster relief, counter-drug operations, and soon search and rescue.

“One of the best things for us is the capability to carry six people in back,” or the equivalent amount of cargo, said Collins, whose unit was flying the OH-58A/C prior to delivery of the Lakotas. “Before, I could carry one passenger.”

The added weight capacity gives the unit greater mission flexibility, useful on operations where they are carrying large teams of emergency management first responders.

“To me the biggest difference is that it’s a true multi-mission aircraft,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Todd Woodard, another of the detachment’s pilots. “We can do hoist ops, carry passengers, carry cargo, do search and rescue, counter-drug, surveillance,” and potentially other missions, he said.

“The next big thing that stands out is the speed,” Collins said. Typical mission speeds in the Lakota range between 125 and 130 knots, he said, whereas pilots were limited to about 90 knots in his old platform.

That added speed translates into increased range, Collins said, noting that his available mission time has increased almost 50 percent, from two hours to two hours and 50 minutes, over greater distances.

Having a platform with superior payload, range and speed gives EADS North America an excellent starting point for an Armed Scout aircraft. “We’re confident that our team has a low-risk technical path to meet or exceed the performance requirements the Army outlined in the Sources Sought document,” said EADS North America Chief Operating Officer David R. Oliver, Jr.

Performance isn’t the only factor that Army pilots appreciate in the Lakota. According to Collins, aircrews are often fresher when they arrive on station on long missions, due to the reduced pilot workload that comes with the UH-72A’s advanced autopilot modes. In transit, pilots dial in a heading and altitude, then can fly hands off, freeing them to attend to other mission tasks in the cockpit.

“That cuts down on pilot fatigue significantly,” he said. “Six hours a day in this aircraft is nothing like flying six hours in the 58.”

Other factors also reduce fatigue, he said. “This aircraft doesn’t shake and rattle like other helicopters do.” Besides the OH-58, Collins has flown UH-1s and AH-64s for the National Guard.

The Lakota, like the EC145 platform that will form the basis of the Armed Scout 645, also offers controls and displays that ease a pilot’s tasks in a number of ways, explained American Eurocopter (AEC) pilot John Bourgeois. Bourgeois has more than 8,000 helicopter flight hours with the Army, Coast Guard and AEC, and now trains Army pilots on the Lakota at AEC’s headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The EC145 family of aircraft features digital flight controls that make the aircraft highly responsive without wrestling the controls. “The other aircraft our students are coming from have very heavy-handed flying controls,” Bourgeois said. “We have to teach them how to guide the aircraft, rather than manhandling the aircraft.”

Along with the dual, digital 3-axis autopilot, the Lakota provides automatic follow-up trim below 40 knots, meaning pilots only have to make minimal stick inputs to adjust aircraft attitude.

“It has dampening qualities you don’t have in other aircraft,”

Bourgeois said. “You have to let the autopilot do its thing, and then it’s got a lot smoother ride than other aircraft.”

The Lakota has a rigid rotor system that makes it both highly maneuverable and very stable in a hover, Bourgeois said. “I think both of those traits would enhance an aircraft’s suitability for the scout mission.”

The modern digital information displays are also as welcome change for pilots used to seeing only analog gauges.

“They fall in love with the glass cockpit,” Bourgeois said. “They like the central panel display system with the FLI,” or First Limit Indicator, which takes information from six different sensors and combines them on one display rather than six analog gauges.

“Once again, you’re reducing pilot workload,” said Bourgeois. “That combined with the hands-off capability to fly this coupled up to either GPS or to fly an [Instrument Landing System] approach frees up the pilot to do other mission functions in the cockpit.

“These features also make the Lakota an excellent platform for flying Instrument Flight Rules at night or in the clouds,” Bourgeois said.

“We had no IFR capability before,” Collins said. “Now we are fully IFR capable.”

The Lakota’s design doesn’t just offer advantages in the air, however, with mechanics lauding the aircraft’s ease of maintenance.

“Everything is much easier to access,” said Sgt. Kathy McQuay, a Lakota mechanic whose experience also includes working on AH-64 and OH-58 helicopters. “Everything is really easy to see.”

The Lakota’s clear and thorough troubleshooting procedures make it easier to diagnose issues than with any other aircraft McQuay has worked on before, she said. “I like that instead of just changing a part and hoping that it fixes the problem, I can pinpoint exactly where the problem is.” The UH-72A fleet has an operational availability rate higher than 90 percent.

The Armed Scout 645 would build on all of the capabilities and enhancements that Army crews appreciate in the UH-72A, EADS North America officials said.

EADS North America, as the prime contractor, has delivered 67 UH-72A Lakotas to the Army and Army National Guard since November 2006, with all aircraft supplied on or ahead of schedule and within budget.

The UH-72A is recognized as one of the most rapid aircraft introductions in Army aviation history. The growing fleet in Army service has passed the 10,000 flight-hour milestone, demonstrating mission performance and reliability in operations throughout the United States. To date, 128 Lakotas have been ordered by the Army, with plans to acquire a total of 345 UH-72As by 2016.
That clearly says that it has a rigid rotor. According to everything I was taught by the Great One Chuck Beaty. A rigid rotor helicopter is capable of doing maneuvers that most think are impossible in any non rigid rotor helicopters. This is what allows the BO105 and Lynx to do what we have all watched in awe and went wait that’s a rotary wing aircraft. They can’t do that. Then we watch that crazy routine and come to grips that indeed it can. This thanks mostly to the skilled pilots of the Red Bull Demo team.
After looking back at the photos on this thread, it made me think of a horrible mistake waiting for an accident and fire to happen.

Back in Vietnam, the decision was made to provide Army Aviators and Crew Members with a two piece Nomex flight shirt and flight trousers as a replacement for the one piece Nomex flight suit (that came from the USAF). After several shot down/crashes with resulting fires, the aircrews were suffering grave third degree burns on the upper torso of the body because of the gap between the shirt and trousers. The fire would get in between the skin and the Nomex shirt of the wearer and happily burn away. That uniform was quickly dropped and it was back to the one piece Nomex flight suit.

In 2009, history repeats. The Army decided to get rid of the one piece Nomex flight suit and issue the two piece Nomex Army Aircrew Combat Uniform (A2CU). Not long after, the USAF decided to adopt their own version of the A2CU. This is the uniform we see in the photos. Those who remember the severe burns in Vietnam with the two piece including myself screamed "WHY? LEARN FROM HISTORY!"

Folks that wear Nomex should take a few minutes and read about how it works.

The summer weight flight suit many of us wear is better than nothing, but one of the Simpson suits Vance used to wear would provide much more protection. When I flew the GBA Hawk 6 (C-337 airframe) for the first time I used a 2-layer Simpson suit with Nomex long underwear under it. Wow, that was hot! Now, because of my expanded girth, the only thing that fits is the Balaclava. At least I don't have a fat head!



  • UH 72, the Colonel Visits KCUB
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Great info here! I listened as the crewmen talked about some of their experiences with them, electronics, etc. One pilot mentioned the ground impact alert system going into alarm as he hovered one day for "no apparent reason". He landed, it reset itself, problem solved. Both pilots seemed really happy with these helos, had nothing but good things to say about flying them. One thing that struck me was was how small the rotor disk was on top of the "Fat Guppy" body.

The Atlanta FAA MIDO inspector who gave me my gyro aircraft certification ten years ago was a former Eurocopter Engineering Dept. Mgr. I knew nothing about the Lakota until after I took these photos, returned home and looked up UH-72 on the web. About the Nomex suits, I had a two-piece, 2-layer fire suit. Yeah, it was stinkin hot until the race started, my T shirt top was tucked into the long johns which came way up over my waist over my belly - which was skinny back then... Used a hand towel soaked in an ice cooler, wrapped it around my neck to stay comfortable while sitting on the grid in the July sun.
I have some side by side airtime with one of those here in Guam.
Our ANG pilots have 2 I believe set up as medical birds judging from the red cross on them.
I was on short final to a private strip when they saw me and flew up eye level so we could see each other (it was safely out of my way) I didn't have a gopro on that day.
Very slick looking bird!
Back in 2012, the 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, CA ARNG in Stockton, CA received eight UH-72 Lakotas. Some are currently being used to support the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (CDTF) along the Southern Border. The CDTF aviation teams support civil operations, air reconnaissance, and illegal narcotics suppression operations in both urban and rural environments. Teams conduct day and night operations in order to provide the agency with real-time information to enhance case development.