FORT CAMPBELL, Tenn. (WKRN) — The CH-47 is the Army’s only heavy-lift, cargo helicopter. It’s commonly used to support critical combat operations. Despite its size, it is known for its ability to maneuver quickly. News 2’s Alex Denis got to experience the ride firsthand.
“I’m carrying some of the greatest warriors in America to and from the battlefield,” said CW3 Melvin Kluthe with the 101st Airborne Division. “So for you, that responsibility clearly isn’t lost?” asked News 2’s Alex Denis. “No. It’s not just a blank face. It’s somebody’s dad, mom. Someone’s sister, brother, son. I’m taking extra special care to take them to do their missions so they can get back home safely.”
They fly together in some of the most dangerous areas in the world. “We are a very cohesive team. The only thing that separates us is DNA. That’s it,” said Kluthe.
Assigned to a legendary unit. “The 101st is one of the most storied units in the military. The veterans that came before me, those people were just granite-chin individuals. They were tough.”
The Chinook flight team takes great pride in its essential assignment. “The CH-47 is the United States Army’s only tandem rotor helicopter. It provides an incredible amount of capability to the 101st Airborne,” explained CPT Kyle Amonson.
“The blades of the chinook are a big popping sound. To some people in the world, that means pure absolute terror…which it should mean. And for other people, it just means freedom like they’re coming to pick us up,” Kluthe said.
“If we’re in combat, we’d have three crew members one at the cabin door here. One at the left hand window, and one in the rear. And, there’d be three machine guns positioned in the same,” said a flight crew member.
“Our back speed is 170 knots,” said the pilot. That’s 200 mph! “We’ve been doing about 100 knots the entire time”
Hugging the terrain mere feet of the ground – with precise maneuvering capability that skims treetops – the Chinook can carry 60 people and a sling-load capacity of 26,000 pounds center hook.
“I’ve picked up other aircraft like a Black Hawk from damaged area zones,” said Kluthe.
The CH-47 is commonly used in air assault missions, either inserting troops, supplies, or for casualty evacuation. The men and woman who don the Screaming Eagle’s patch train continuously.
“We are flying every day of the week.” said Kluthe. Combat readiness is always a top priority. “The pressure is kinda lost in the fog of battle, but leading up to that, it’s extremely important to make sure I’m as sharp as I can be.”
Because the 101st Airborne Division promises a rendezvous with destiny, a passion veterans of years past can relate to, “It’s awesome. I love this job,” said Kluthe. “We enjoyed having you out here today. We hope you enjoyed seeing a little taste of what we do on a day-to-day bases,” Amonson said with a smile.