Most of the concrete expanse, once home to helicopters, is covered by rusty fences and heaps of even rustier oilfield equipment.
Thanks to a cadre of veterans and volunteers, though, a restored main entry looks as good as ever: Visitors to what is now an industrial park drive under a helicopter-theme archway. On the left side of the orange, steel-frame archway sits a restored Hiller OHD. A similar version is still sold today by the Schweizer division of Sikorsky Aircraft. The third helicopter type used at Wolters was the H, the military version of the bubble-canopy Bell 47 civilian models made famous by old movies and television shows.
At the peak, the fort had swept up nearly 1, helicopters for its trainees. A tornado in April damaged of them. By the end of , the three heliports were handling at least 2, takeoffs and landings daily, five days a week. We set out with hopes of getting into the now-abandoned Dempsey Heliport on U.
There was no sign of activity.
The only suggestion of something valuable was a padlock on the gate and a sign reading Junco Inc. We need a helicopter to get in there. Fortunately, no helicopter was necessary to get a good look at remnants of the stagefield known as Bien Hoa, two miles north. Like all the stagefields, it had a small control tower, paved strips and pads for landing practice, and a building for students to study in between flights.
Brown pointed to remnants of an asphalt strip nearby, where helicopters pulled up for refueling. Other long strips and pads to the east were for practicing approaches and autorotations. The close attention to off-airport skills at Wolters, and later at Rucker, makes sense in light of what the new armada of gas-turbine helicopters offered to U. They retrieved wounded soldiers and restocked ammunition.
Larger helicopters hauled artillery tubes and bulldozers. But fully exploiting these virtues required extraordinary flying skills. Often success depended on the ability to hug the terrain in nap-of-earth fashion, then plunge into tiny clearings among the trees.
Some of those clearings were barely bigger than the helicopter itself. And taking off was even chancier. Given high air temperatures and heavy payloads—such as a load of rescued troopers—pilots had to know how to use every foot of the space available, and every pound of lift.
enter In the confined areas around Wolters, which were marked by tires of different colors to note their difficulty, students learned how to get out of very tight spots. Continue or Give a Gift. Daily Planet. Flight Today. History of Flight. Virtual Space.
Subscribe Current Issue. From This Story. Courtesy The Portal to Texas History.
Students at Fort Wolters learned helicopter basics on three models, including the Hiller OH flying in formation on Armed forces Day, Fort had 25 stagefields comprised of six lanes including hovering and parking areas. A Southern airways flight instructor explains the phases of operating the OHD instrument panel to a student in Some 41, students would train there.
The next day, Hughes officials sent 9, pounds of replacements parts, plus three engineers. For sustenance, he tossed a couple of sack lunches into the bubble cockpit. Courtesy Mike Wegner.
Students in Primary II practiced maneuvers in small clearings typically surrounded by trees and boulders, recalls student Dwayne Williams. Between and , the OHDs logged more than 2. Courtesy Bill Jeczalik. A flight commander observes takeoffs.
A sample solo certificate Courtesy Dwayne Williams. Ultimately, they will all perform a check ride in the actual aircraft, which will determine capability. That first phase of the pilot program will take nine weeks. Two additional classes will then go through the same program. Jill Aitoro is editor of Defense News. For more newsletters click here. Interested in battlefield technologies?
Thanks for signing up. Lessons from Amazon? Emerging tech in the Defense Logistics Agency Lt. Once that initial phase of flight school is completed, students will continue through the curriculum without virtual reality, experiencing the same training as the control group in the class.
Ultimately, they will all perform a check ride in the actual aircraft, which will determine capability.
Flight Training (WOFT) program is necessarily designed to be rigorous and stressful, For more information about joining the Warrant Officer. Fly Army helicopters after attending its training program The Warrant Officer Flight Training Program is open to US citizens at least 18 but no older than
That first phase of the pilot program will take nine weeks. Two additional classes will then go through the same program. Jill Aitoro is editor of Defense News. For more newsletters click here. Interested in battlefield technologies? Thanks for signing up. Lessons from Amazon?