Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Trusty UH-60

Can't really share much of what I'm working on at the moment, but i figure a few ambiguous panels with no real context should be okay.

I wanted to share this one because of how much i love drawing UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Nostalgia to be sure. I spent an awful lot of time in these when i was in the army. I've jumped out of them at least 900 times or so (and other aircraft another couple hundred times), conducted sling load operations with them (where a buddy of mine damn near got crushed between a Hemmit - truck - and a Chinook - helicopter - ok, not a black hawk, but still), and been a part of massive air assault operations.

I've seen them do some amazing things - things you wouldn't think them capable of doing. I've been on board them for several of these. I've actually experienced zero gravity in them. Truth! They can perform parabolic curves just like the vomit comet (the plane NASA uses to train astronauts on zero gravity effects). The Black Hawk's curves aren't as big, so the zero gravity effect lasts for a shorter time period, but i feel comfortable saying we could get twenty to thirty seconds worth. Enough time to tumble around in the back, doing flips, or watching a pal's coffee come out of his cup and float across the cabin in a giant blob (Dave Keres, I'm looking at you, buddy)!

Even though zero g sounds like the coolest thing ever, i think the most amazing thing I've ever seen with Black Hawks is Air Assault operations. Being crammed in the back with two squads worth of infantry buddies and all our gear, looking out the windows and seeing twenty or thirty other Black Hawks flying in close proximity, with more infantry guys crammed in the backs, is a truly amazing sight. They're all bobbing up and down a little as they try to maintain their flight positions, heading en masse to a drop zone where they will all land, dump their cargo (us), and be off again inside of a minute, is awesome. It doesn't look as glamorous as seeing paratroopers jumping out the back of C-130s, but believe me, it's just as awesome.

It takes a lot of skill for these pilots to fly in such closer proximity to each other - in the back, our lives are literally in their steady hands.

The third coolest thing I've ever seen with Black Hawks (last one, I promise) is when they come in to land at night during combat (or simulated combat) conditions. They come in with no lights. I mean nothing. With the naked eye they might as well be invisible. What's so cool, however, is when you're wearing your night vision goggles. They suddenly look like something out of TRON. They've usually got one or two infrared strobes going and the rotor blades, which generate an incredible amount of static electricity, create a glowing ring around themselves. It's so science fiction looking.

Maybe I'll have to recreate some of these as illustrations at some point. Sounds like fun. :-)

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