MARINE CORPS AIR STATION KANEOHE BAY --
Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 24 operated a total of 12 mission capable helicopters at once during a “max launch” from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, June 13, 2013.
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, from MAG-24, prepared four UH-1Y Hueys, four AH-1W Super Cobras and four CH-53E Super Stallions for liftoff.
The MAG-24 Marines prepared weeks in advance before any aircraft could depart at noon for the max launch. The morning of the max launch, they topped off the fuel and conducted the usual safety checks before flying.
“The max launch is a great representation of what the squadrons within MAG-24 have to offer,” said Capt. Robert Dugan, 33, the strike flight lead for the max launch from HMLA-367 and a native of Middleburgh, N.Y. “It’s why everyone in MAG-24 works as hard as they do.”
The 12 helicopters took flight at noon from runway 04 and headed out over the ocean. The helicopters flew over Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Nuupia Ponds and along the coast of the Windward side of Oahu and over to the Hawaiian island of Lanai. During the flight, the pilots practiced flying in formation. Many of the pilots have never flown with such a large number of aircraft.
“This was one of the biggest formations of aircraft I have flown with in a long time,” Dugan said. “It’s reminiscent of an operation we would experience in any battle space.”
Upon arrival to the island of Lanai, the helicopters flew around the island and performed training exercise operations with each type of helicopter while working together as a unit on a large scale.
“The max launch is a rare opportunity that every Marine involved has really taken advantage of,” said Capt. Joshua Gordon, the human affairs officer for HMLA-367. “We are putting a majority of MAG-24’s airpower up into the air at once to give everyone a chance to train how we fight.”
The mission took nearly two hours, and when the exercise was complete the formation headed back to the flight line.
“We are always pushing ourselves to be more proficient and perfect our aircrew readiness as much as possible,” said Capt. Gregory Watten, 28, the air mission commander for the max launch and native of Pasadena, Calif. “Overall it’s a great chance for us to see what we are good at and where we can improve.”