U.S. Army Air Division displays pride, professionalism and versatility

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Liddicoet
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Few organizations on Holloman AFB truly embody the multi-faceted nature of the base's mission as well as the U.S. Army Air Division does. However, with all of their relevance and criticality to the base, they still remain one of the best-kept secrets on the installation.

The Army Air Division has a unique mission that cannot be summarized briefly; to say the least, their mission is entirely adaptive to the needs here at Holloman.

As one of the smallest organizations on base, they manage to provide a large breadth of support, ranging from testing weapons systems and conducting search and recovery operations to helping 49th Security Forces Squadron military working dogs and handlers acclimate to the conditions of flying in helicopters, the division's primary aircraft.

"We're a huge force multiplier here," said J.D. Edwards, pilot and chief of Army Air Division operations. "We have a determination to put out the best weapons systems possible and to support the war fighter in any way we can."

As Edwards explains, the Army Air Division has been at Holloman AFB since 1954, and is primarily responsible for flying in support of test operations, such as airborne global positioning jammers and small diameter bombs. They also have the navigational prowess to perform search patterns across vast expanses of mountainous desert terrain to recover crashed test vehicles and missiles alike. Still, all of this excludes the search and rescue missions that they stand-by to perform anytime of day.

Even though their mission may be broad, the Army Air Division pilots' vast experience limits any learning curve they may encounter during operations. According to Edwards, among the six pilots, they have accrued more than 62,000 flight hours. That being said, nearly all of the pilots at the Army Air Division are retired military, having chosen to continue serving their country with decades of invaluable flying experience.

"You've got guys here that have been in Vietnam, still willing to teach and share their experiences," said Chris Lowe, Army Air Division pilot. "As one of the younger pilots working here, I've learned an amazing amount."

The unit remains small because of the unique type of pilot it takes to fly the wide range of missions that the Army Air pilots do.

The members of the Army Air Division here also take an incredible amount of pride in what they do. Edwards places safety for the unit as the first priority, and as a result they have received countless safety awards from the Army Test and Evaluation Command for their meticulous and steadfast approach to flying aircraft.

They also proudly host the only helicopters on Holloman AFB: the UH-72 Lakota and the venerable UH-1 Iroquois, as well as one fixed-wing C-12 Huron.

The unsung heroes of the Army Air division's success are the mechanics and technicians who keep an aging workhorse, the UH-1, and the modern generation UH-72 in superb condition. Like the aircrew, Edwards explains that most of the maintainers have worked in aviation for many years. Several of them have been working on the UH-1, in particular, for more than 30 years of combined active duty or military service.

"It's a team effort, says Edwards, and the maintainers perform flawless work day in and day out."

Some people may be hesitant to take on such a broad mission set, but the aircrew and maintainers at the Army Division embrace their role.

"We're very close-knit here. It's about being a family, so we all have an extreme sense of pride and professionalism that we use to drive our mission forward," said Edwards. "We can't play in the majors anymore, but we still go out and play ball every Sunday."