Chinook helicopters gave ROTC cadets a lift

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) -- Air crews from the 158th Aviation Regiment out of Olathe got in some flight training while giving cadets a joyride from Lawrence to their training camp in Salina.

KU ROTC cadets took flight in two CH-47 Chinook helicopters as part of a joint training exercise on Friday.

“Our saying is ‘there’s always room for one more,’” said CH-47D Helicopter Pilot Amos Bechthold. “We set up a mission coordinated with the guys on the ground here at KU. For the cadets, it’s more of a joyride, but they also get a little training out of it as well.”

Training rifles in hand, KU ROTC cadets marched from the Military Science Building to the Shenk Sports Complex, where their rides awaited them.

“We have two CH-47s out here. We have a Fox model directly in front of us and a Delta model on the far side of the west field,” explained Bechthold.

The tandem-rotor copters are some of the fastest in US inventory – traveling at almost 200 miles per hour.

“It’s definitely beneficial to the cadets because it’s a real life experience that we don’t get on a regular day basis. It’s not really what you’d think of from the movies, it’s a lot bigger than I expected,” said Cadet Elizabeth Haas.

A CH-47 would set you back about $40 million, but don’t expect it to fight your battles.

“We’re not an attack helicopter; we don’t go and shoot people. We’re primarily for cargo and transport, but we can do a variety of missions it just depends on what the mission dictates,” said Bechthold.

Friday’s mission involved giving an army of cadets a lift to Salina, but don’t be misled – these choppers aren’t that big.

“Legally we can put 33 in the back, seatbelted. We like to keep it legal and safe and that’s what we’ll do,” said Bechthold.

To ensure a safe flight, air crews gave cadets some basic flight training before lift-off -- but the biggest lesson of the day?

“If you’re going to get sick, it’s better to throw up in your shirt. Sometimes it’ll start a chain reaction! Luckily, I don’t get motion sick,” laughed Cadet Haas.