Students strolling to their next classes on the University of Alabama campus may have noticed giant military helicopters swirling over their heads and wondered why they landed and suddenly took off in a matter of minutes Wednesday afternoon.
But fear not, UA community. All is well.
The Army ROTC at the University of Alabama held a training exercise during which 88 cadets were transported by CH-47 Chinook helicopters provided by the Alabama Army National Guard. The helicopters flew the to the Pelham Range complex on Fort McClellan.
The ROTC did not publicize it beforehand. For safety purposes, they didn’t want to draw a large crowd when the Chinooks landed on the UA Student Recreation Center fields, where students normally play intramural sports like flag football and soccer.
Each year, the ROTC holds fall and spring field training exercises for the cadets. LTC James Horn, professor of military science, We’ll said the cadets will remain at Fort McClellan for training for five days until they return Saturday night. Their training will include basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation. ground tactical operations, a leadership reaction course and a confidence obstacle course — all culminating with a rucksack march before they come home.
Wednesday’s exercise was done in coordination with UA. They managed to avoid a crowd, but they did see a few spectators who certainly got a show, most of them watching from the steps of the Rec Center, along with one guy on a bicycle who rode on the fields for a closer look.
Horn said the cadets were excited about the flight, during which the pilots “demonstrated the capabilities of the aircraft, including a “harsh climb” to 1,200 feet and a weightless drop to 1,000 feet.
Horn said UA’s Army ROTC program has 175 cadets, six active duty members and five civilian staff. Learn more about the ROTC program.
Watch video and see more photos of the Chinooks landing and taking off from Wednesday’s exercise below.