Peter Kim2

This article was provided by Peter Kim who's late father was one of the ROK pilots trained by the 48th AHC.  The article was taken from the October 1968 Volume 2, Number 2 edition of the 1st Aviation Brigade Magazine, "HAWK."

 

Title: "ROK Pilots Enthusiastic Pupils of 17th Group"

The Koreans have already earned themselves a page in history for their outstanding performance in II Corps, Vietnam. But, until last year, they were entirely dependent on American Aviation units for all aerial support. Then, in September 1967, the 11th ROK Aviation Company was formed in Nha Trang to provide some organic aviation capability. Now, nearly one year later, the 1st Aviation Brigade has instituted a regular incountry training program to help bolster the Korean aviation effort.

Four Korean aviators have now completed the instructional portion of this flight training program in the UH-1D/H Huey helicopter.

The program was conceived by Major General Robert R. Williams, Commander of the 1st Aviation Brigade and the Republic of Korean Army, Vietnam Commander Lieutenant General Chae Mung Shin.

Training began on July 6th by the Brigade's 17th Combat Aviation Group at their headquarters in Nha Trang. For the past two years the 17th Group has provided all the army aviation support for the Tiger and White Horse ROK Army divisions operation in the II Corps Tactical Zone.

The program is broken down into three phases. The first phase consists of a series of briefings and ground instruction. Then, the U.S instructors coach their pupils through flight manouvers in simulated combat conditions for two weeks.

Satisfactorily completing these two phases, the students are then assigned to various battalions within the Group. For two months they fly as an integral part of the unit's actual combat operations.

Most of the students have already qualified in the H-23 Observation helicopter prior to beginning Huey training. Captain Ki Hwan Kim pointed out that "we have little trouble with the Huey because of its similarity to the H-23 in which most of us have at least 60 hours of flight time".

While they are knowledgeable of English in its written form, many of the pilots have some difficulty conversing in it. This, according to Lieutenant Colonel John C. Thorpe, Group Operations Officer, "may be a contributing factor to their aggressive and diligent attitude in memorizing the entire flight procedures prior to each mission".

During the training missions the Koreans undergo nearly every conceivable air manouveur including autorotations, emergency landings, confined area operations, sling loading, pinnacle flying, and night flying. First they are taken through the manouver by the instructor until they are familiar with the procedures. Then, while still under the scrutiny, of the instructor, the student takes the controls until he can perform the manouver smoothly.

Captain Ki Sun Han noted that "the confined landings were very difficult, but the Huey is a good aircraft and I had confidence in it".

All this is behind now for the first students. They have already begun to accrue hours flying with the 10th Combat Aviation Battalion in support of their own ground troops.

These aviators, and those who follow them in training, will ultimately be assigned back to the 11th ROK Aviation Company in Nha Trang . Here they will complete their Vietnam tour flying their Hueys in support of their 40,000 countrymen fighting in II Corps.

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