Friday, March 27, 2009

Riding Black Hawk Helos

I spent almost a year, from early February to late December 2005, working in Iraq for the US Army Corps of Engineers overseeing reconstruction projects as a Resident Engineer. My first two months was in Baghdad’s Green Zone and the last nine months I was in Camp Taji, which is about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad. The primary transport to get to and from Taji from the Green Zone or Camp Victory was via Black Hawk helicopters. I had to attend biweekly project meetings for several health clinic and fire station construction at the Green Zone, where most of the larger contractors had their offices. While at the Green Zone, I also met with construction representatives from my office who were assigned there to oversee projects around Baghdad. I visited Camp Victory often to provide project updates and briefings because that is where the Gulf Region Central District HQ was located. My first couple of helo rides were scary. The helos usually traveled in pairs. The “gunner” positions on each side of the helo were always manned, ready for any type of attacks. In some helos, the passenger doors were removed from each side of the helos. During flights both helos would discharge countermeasure flares to fend off possible heat seeking missiles that may target the helos. So firework displays were always a sight during nighttime helo rides. After awhile, the flights became a bit more bearable, and I was able to observe and enjoy the views below of the desert landscape or the Baghdad cityscape. The flights were usually about 30-45 minutes with stops at several smaller installations.

The following are a few pictures inside and outside a Black Hawk helo, and a video from one of my Black Hawk ride. You can click on any of the pictures for better resolution.

Waiting for an early morning helo flight from Taji to the Green Zone –

Taji Sunrise, while waiting for a Black Hawk ride

Waiting for a night helo flight back to Taji from Camp Victory

Waiting for a Helo Ride

Me inside a Black Hawk –

Black Hawk Helo Flight

The “gunner” position –

Black Hawk Gunner Position

Views during a helo flight –

Black Hawk Helo Flight

Black Hawk Helo Flight

A Black Hawk flight video –


  1. Damn. I was hoping that the video would show you chucking.

  2. No chucking for me on this flight. I was almost a participant to a chain reaction of chuckers on the C-130 flight from Kuwait to Baghdad. As the plane was descending, the plane had to maneuver in a sharp spiral-like downward path. Back then, it was a move by bigger planes to avoid potential ground attack. It provided us the excitement of experiencing greater g forces than expected. Anyway, one person started to blow chunks and a couple of passengers near him followed suit. I was a little bit further from this group. I managed to keep my cool. But a few feet closer, I could have joined the party of chuckers.