Knights last ride: CH-46 helicopters return from their final East Coast MEU deploymen

rock45

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Knights last ride: CH-46 helicopters return from their final East Coast MEU deployment

3/15/2009 By
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Cpl. Aaron J. Rock ,
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ABOARD USS IWO JIMA —
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If you have been a Marine anytime since the start of the Vietnam War, you have seen revolutionary and evolutionary changes in the Corps. New technology, gear, weapons and vehicles have been assimilated and then replaced. But since 1964, one thing hasn’t changed. The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter has served as the primary medium-lift helicopter for the Marine Corps since its introduction to the fleet, and despite over 40 years of improvements and upgrades, its distinctive shape would be familiar to anyone from multiple generations of servicemembers. It has been around so long that it has become the standard of measurement by which aircraft on flight decks are arranged.
The CH-46, or phrog, as it is called affectionately by many, is now approaching something many long-serving veterans eventually see, retirement.
“We are the last active duty, East Coast phrog squadron. We’ve reached a milestone,” said Lt. Col. Mike D. Snyder, a phrog pilot since 1993 and commanding officer of the 26th MEU’s Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Rein.).
The Sea Knight, a fixture on the flight deck of every Marine Air Ground Task force deployed aboard naval vessels since the 1970s, will soon be replaced by the MV-22 Osprey as the primary medium-lift aircraft for the Corps.
Just because this would prove to be its last float, however, didn’t mean the aircraft came up with any kind of short timer’s disease.
A month into the MEU’s deployment, Central Command sent the MEU’s CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters to Iraq, leaving the Sea Knights as the primary support aircraft for the next six months, a job they performed well, according to Snyder.
“The 46s stepped up and fulfilled all the requirements without the 53s here,” he said.
What’s especially impressive is the fact that the aircraft fulfilling those missions are, in many cases, often twice as old as the pilots flying them and crews keeping them in the air.
HMM-264’s youngest aircraft hit the fleet in September of 1970. It’s oldest in October of 1966. Between just those two aircraft, disregarding all others in the squadron, they have over 20, 660 hours flown.
Colonel Mark J. Desens, commanding officer of the 26th MEU and a CH-46 pilot since 1987, said the Marine Corps definitely got something right with the Sea Knight by continuing to maintain and upgrade the aircraft despite the fact that it was supposedly going to be replaced in the 90’s.
“They told me in flight school that I would probably only be flying the 46 for three years before the Osprey would replace it, and now here I am as the MEU commander, my 53s are taken away, and the 46, old and tired, carries the MEU,” he said.
Both Desens and Snyder both said that while the Osprey will replace the CH-46 in the fleet, it can’t replace the phrog in everything it does.
“The CH-46 is a proven technology. It is one of the most reliable aircraft in the inventory. It is stable and provides the perfect platform for things like fastroping, which will be problematical with the Osprey. Also, it is metal. Which means if it gets shot full of holes it is an easy fix, while the MV-22 will not be so easy,” Desens said.
Snyder agreed.
“Even though we are replacing the aircraft, it is still fully capable of performing the mission,” he said. “(The Osprey) is not a replacement for the mission; it is a replacement for the aircraft.”
The seminal moment for the aircraft during the float came as USS Iwo Jima passed under the Peace Bridge spanning the Suez Canal carrying Sea Knights for the last time. It was a poignant moment for some, while for others it just represents progress.
Snyder said it was a little bittersweet to know it would be the last time.
“It’s kind of sad. 46s have been around so long and they’ve been such a stable workhorse it’s hard to see them go after flying them for almost 16 years,” he said.
Desens said that while he can understand why some will miss it, “It would be a little like bemoaning a horse and buggy. Marines tend to be nostalgic, but in actuality we are innovators.”
It really wasn’t sad, the phrog has served well. She has earned and deserves her sunset. I thought to myself, ‘How cool is it to see the last East Coast phrogs headed under the bridge?’”
At the same time, he acknowledged how important the CH-46 is in the history and lore of the Corps.
“How many warriors have been in the back of a 46; these 46s?” he asked. “Vietnam in the 70s, Beirut in the 80s, all of the (Noncombatant Evacuation Operations), Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan. There are generations of Marines that have ridden in them still around.”
He and Snyder were also quick to point out that even though the 46 will no longer go on MEU deployments, it’s not going away completely for awhile.
“It will still be around for seven or eight more years, and still be receiving its modifications,” said Snyder.
Desens put it succinctly. “I think the last 46 pilot may have been born, but not yet commissioned.”


26th MEU
http://www.marines.mil/units/marforcom/iimef/26thmeu/Pages/Knightslastride.aspx
 
Holy restricted rotor headsI guess I can throw away all my copys of the rotor system repair manuals now :(
this is truely a sad day



AD2 Hummell AIMD W/C/ 411/440 NAS Norfolk Va. 1981-1985 1997-2000
We fixed at least one blade and head off evevy Navy and Marine CH-46
 
Holy restricted rotor headsI guess I can throw away all my copys of the rotor system repair manuals now :(
this is truely a sad day



AD2 Hummell AIMD W/C/ 411/440 NAS Norfolk Va. 1981-1985 1997-2000
We fixed at least one blade and head off evevy Navy and Marine CH-46

I don't know about throwing away the manuals...

My hubby went with me to my local National Guard post. He got to meet someone who wrote the manual on the Howitzer. He was so impressed that he talked about it for days. (now, to make this ironic... I'm in the ARMY National Guard... my husband is a MARINE... it takes a lot to impress him, especially if it isn't in his branch! LOL :rambo:)
 
Spent a lotta time ridin in Phrogs. Seein em go makes me kinda sad. Always felt safer in Sea Knight than I did in a Sea Stallion.
 
Spent a lotta time ridin in Phrogs. Seein em go makes me kinda sad. Always felt safer in Sea Knight than I did in a Sea Stallion.

LOL I worked on Stallion's too, I think I'd feel safer in a Lamps mk2 than a 53 any day.

Heres a list of aircraft with parts we worked on in my shop
Lamps mk2
CH-46
CH-47
RD-53 (all)
CH-53 (all)
MH-53 (all)
H-60 (all)
H-3
E2/C2
C-130
C-131
C-1
F-14
F-4
A-4
AH1D ( just the prop and dome)

we did more than those, but thats all I can remember right now:)
 
That whole tail boom issue the 53 had in the mid 80's kinda gave me some heebie jeebies I never got over. I don't care how much hyrd fluid the Phrog was leaking I'll ride it any day.
 
it wasn't a problem, we simply rebuilt or replaced the tail rotor disconnect coupleing an dthey stopped falling out of the sky
 
It was a problem for a few:lol:. I'm a Grunt I have a natrual distrust of anything with a spinny thing on the top thats not supposed to fly anyway:lol:
 
Its not a natural distrust, its common sense

Rule #1 of aircraft, what goes up WILL come down
Rule #2 theres no such thing as a perfectly good aircraft
 
Inside

Hi 03USMC
I have never been in a moving helicopter only a few on the ground at air shows. Can you describe what it's like flying in one sorry for the basic school boy question?

Is landing in the jungle or in the mountains scarier then landing on a ship say bouncing a little in the dark?

Hi wolfen
You work on F-14, F-4, A-4? Holly sh__ these are some of my all time favorite fighters! A-4s are near the very top of my all time favorite aircraft list that little jet could carry some load. Were F-14s really high maintenance fighters the way make them out to be? I made friends with a F-15 driver in a different forum and he not only went off on how his Eagle could wipe the floors with any Tomcat but also called the hanger queens.

Thanks Guys
icon14.gif
 
Lotta vibration, lotta noise. I always laugh at movies where they have conversations in helo's with out comm gear. Ya can't hear crap in a helo, you use hand signals or get right up in someones ear and yell.

I'd rather land on any type of land than on the deck of a LPH, LHD or LHA. the ground doesn't roll and the pilot doesn't have to time his touch down with the roll of the ground.
 
There are perfectly good aircraft. Only one I'd fly in is either a B25, F4 or a Chinook.

And the only time to worry about the Chinook is when it quits leaking.....
 
Hi 03USMC
I have never been in a moving helicopter only a few on the ground at air shows. Can you describe what it's like flying in one sorry for the basic school boy question?

Is landing in the jungle or in the mountains scarier then landing on a ship say bouncing a little in the dark?

Hi wolfen
You work on F-14, F-4, A-4? Holly sh__ these are some of my all time favorite fighters! A-4s are near the very top of my all time favorite aircraft list that little jet could carry some load. Were F-14s really high maintenance fighters the way make them out to be? I made friends with a F-15 driver in a different forum and he not only went off on how his Eagle could wipe the floors with any Tomcat but also called the hanger queens.

Thanks Guys
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CH46/47 Army Navy and Marine versions -> Leak like sives, rattles shakes, and make sfunny noises
53's do all of the above and leak hydraulic fulid also.

Yea i worked on Cats, Phantoms and Skyhawks, A-4 was a royal pain to pull the engine out of, Phantom was living proff that a rock will fly with a big enough engine, and a Tomcat is the queen of the sky.
And helocopters DO NOT create enough lift to fly, they simply beat the crap out of the air until it submits.
Althoughthe Navy and Marine 53's do need rotor blade extensions to get off teh ground, make a person feel really safe.

Oh and no landing in teh jungle is not sacrier than landing on a carrier, NOTHING is worse than landiong on a moving object
 
Wanna bet?

They're all good aircraft.
Provided they're sitting on the ground & not moving.... :smile:


I won't disagree with ya on military aircraft! Just pulling your leg guys!
 
Wanna bet?

I betcha I can prove you wrong! Wanna bet? :bored:

How many years did YOU spend fixing the engines on the perfectly good aircraft?
keep in mind perfectly good doesn't mean a static display at the gate on your base :)
 
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