Rotary Wing Training in the Army

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    Application Process

    • The majority of Army helicopter pilots are Warrant Officers. It is one of the only military occupational specialties (MOS) that do not require a college degree or prior military service. Candidates fill out an application and, if approved, meet with a board of aviation officers who make a decision as to whether the candidate is aviator material.

    Warrant Officer Candidate School

    • The first step on the way to pilot is WOCS. Here, candidates learn the basics of Army life and leading other soldiers. Candidates must adhere to strict regulations governing everything from appearance to how the present themselves in public. This is done to nurture strong attention to details that WOs will need to accomplish future missions. WOs will also learn the warrior tasks of enlisted soldiers and finish their training with a field exercise (FTX). After passing WOCS, candidates are commissioned at the rank of WO1.

    Officer Basic Course

    • OBC furthers the WOs education to make them proficient in the field and managing other soldiers. OBC is broken in to two parts. Part one comes before Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) training. Tasks covered here are land navigation, military writing, aviation operations and aeromedical issues. Part two comes after IERW and teaches WOs how to lead aviation platoons. This part covers aviation operations, mission briefing, battle drills and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training.

    Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training

    • IERW is broken down into four phases, the first of which is Primary. In this phase, students learn the basics of flying. The lessons take place with a civilian helicopter and an instructor in the copilot seat. Takeoffs, landings and hovering are practiced. The second phase of IERW is Instruments. Students learn how to fly in low visibility conditions with only their instruments to guide them. The next phase is Basic Combat Skills. Here students learn to navigate different types of terrain and perform artillery support missions. During the final phase, Night Flying, students must learn to perform all the necessary tasks and missions using night vision goggles.

    Advanced Aircraft Transition

    • During AAT, pilots finally learn which airframe they will fly and begin specific training. The Army currently uses four models of helicopters: the AH-64 Apache (attack), UH-60 Blackhawk (transport/medivac), OH-58 Kiowa (recon) and CH-47 Chinook (cargo). Students will learn the strengths, weakness and missions to be performed by the aircraft.


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