• 73°

National Guard trains at the airport

TRAINING: Members with the Louisiana Army National Guard conducted some helicopter training at the Picayune airport over the weekend. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

TRAINING: Members with the Louisiana Army National Guard conducted some helicopter training at the Picayune airport over the weekend.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

About 40 members of the Louisiana Army National Guard were at the Picayune Municipal Airport this weekend conducting some intensive helicopter training.
The training involved sling loading military Humvees to Blackhawk helicopters, said CW2 Brian Palmer. The sling load training involved using wires to hook the Humvee to the Blackhawk, which the Blackhawk would then pick up in a real world exercise.
Palmer said this weekend’s exercises allowed his unit to pick up a real 5,000 pound vehicle, instead of the concrete barrels they usually practice with.
“You get to feel a real load under the craft,” Palmer said.
Picayune’s airport was chosen because is has open areas and is adjacent to the buffer zone that surrounds NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center.
In order to safely conduct the training it needed to take place away from heavily populated areas, such as the buffer zone.
The training took place Friday and Saturday and was conducted during the day and night.
Palmer said the night training allowed them to utilize night vision goggles while flying with a sling load, which presents a different dynamic than flying during the day.
While it’s not a mission the team would do everyday, they all had prior experience with sling loading, Palmer said.