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NEWS | April 29, 2022

Helo-Aquatic Search and Rescue Team trains in North Carolina

By Capt. Briana McFarland, North Carolina National Guard

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1-131st Assault Helicopter Battalion, and Det. 2, Charlie Company, 1-126 General Support Aviation Battalion, trained as members of the North Carolina Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina Emergency Management and local first responders.

The units are assigned to the 2-130th Airfield Operations Battalion and are a highly specialized team that trains monthly to ensure readiness for helicopter-based rescues, including swift water/flood, wilderness, urban and mountain rescues.

The training was conducted at the Salisbury armory and Army Aviation Flight Facility #2 March 23-24.

Col. Benny Collins, the North Carolina National Guard State Army Aviation Officer,  invited leaders from 11 states who hope to establish their own HART program to observe, adopt and modify the training to meet their needs. These leaders, from Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas and Utah, consisted of SAAOs, facility commanders, standardization pilots, flight instructors and emergency management offices.

Also attending were representatives from the National Guard Bureau, Directorate of Evaluations Standardization (DES), Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Copeland, the North Carolina assistant adjutant general for sustainment, and Col. Michele Harper, 449th Combat Aviation Brigade commander.

“The NCHART training conducted with our state partners and emergency management is critical in ensuring that we can respond safely and effectively to wide-area flooding and mountain rescues in support of the citizens of North Carolina and our partner states in the accomplishment of our domestic operations mission,” said Lt. Col. Daniel McAuliffe, the 2-130th AOB commander.

The NCHART program includes three different aircraft based on mission needs. The North Carolina Army National Guard provides the UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-72 Lakota helicopters, while the State Highway Patrol provides the Bell-407. Candidates for HART technician positions are chosen based on stringent prerequisite training and a rigorous physical fitness evaluation.

Charlie Company, 1-131st AHB and Det. 2, Charlie Company, 1-126th GSAB, are assigned to the 2-130 Airfield Operations Battalion, 449th Combat Aviation Brigade, and headquartered in Salisbury.