Lowe Army Heliport
The Aviation Training Brigade consists of five battalions that conduct flight training at Fort Rucker at three training sites. 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, Lowe Army Heliport, trains Army and allied aviators in contact, combat skills and night/night vision devices in the OH-58, UH-1 and UH-60 aircraft. The Helicopter School Battalion, Lowe Army Heliport, provides aviation training for Latin American personnel in support of the United States Security Cooperation Program.
In September 1957, Lowe Army Air Field at Fort Rucker was completed. The new field had a modem flight instructor building, maintenance hangers, fire stations, control tower, and four 2,000 foot runways. At this time, all fixed wing flight training moved to Lowe Army Air Field with the exception of the instrument flights which continued to use the Ozark facility. In early 1959, the Department of Primary Fixed Wing Training was formed at Fort Rucker and located at Lowe Field, while advanced contact training moved to Cairns Army Air Field, the former Ozark Army Air Field. On 6 June 1959, the first class of rated officers began a fixed wing qualification course. Previously, warrant officers had been limited to rotary wing training. A prerequisite for selection for the course was that pilots have a minimum of 350 flying hours.
In 1959 the last fixed wing primary class in residence at Camp Gary moved to Fort Rucker where students received the remainder of their advanced training. Camp Gary was inactivated on 30 September 1959. Most of the instructor pilots from Camp Gary moved to Fort Rucker along with approximately 190 L-19 aircraft. On 11 September, the first primary fixed wing class with seventy-eight students began training at Lowe Army Air Field with the Hawthorne School of Aeronautics conducting the primary phase of training. The contractor conducted both the officer Fixed Wing Aviator Course and the Fixed Wing Qualification Course.
Fort Rucker officials announced Sept. 1, 2000, that increased flight training for Fiscal Year 2001 and beyond required the U.S. Army Aviation Center to increase flight operations at Shell Army Heliport near Enterprise early in 2001. The Kiowa fleet had been based for several years at Lowe Army Heliport, which does not have sufficient maintenance facilities or parking areas to handle the additional aircraft.
Thaddeus S. C. Lowe is sometimes called the Father of Army Aviation. Educated in common schools, Lowe specialized in chemistry. He became interested at age 24 in balloons to study upper air currents. In 1858 Lowe made his first balloon voyage, in Canada, in connection with celebrations of the laying of the first trans-Atlantic cable. Shortly afterwards, he conceived the idea of building a giant balloon that could cross the Atlantic from west to east. He completed this balloon in 1859. Called the "City of New York," this balloon was wrecked before take-off from Philadelphia in 1860. In April 1861, Lowe started a 900 mile trip from Cincinnati that ended 9 hours later at Pea Ridge, South Carolina. Because Fort Sumter had been fired on, he was thought to be a Union spy but was saved by a local resident who testified to his nonmilitary background. Lowe was one of several balloonists who tried to convince the federal government of balloons' value in war. On 18 June 1861 Lowe successfully sent a telegraph message from aloft to President Lincoln. A few days later, he eased tension in Washington after the Battle of Bull Run by observing that there were no Confederate movements toward the city. Aided by President Lincoln's personal intervention, Lowe established a balloon corps of seven balloons and became the chief aeronaut to the Army of the Potomac. The balloons were used with some success for artillery spotting and were credited with saving the Union Army from destruction at the battles of Fair Oaks and Gaines Mills. Lowe worked closely with Matthew Brady and made photographs from the balloon. He made over 3000 ascents before the balloon corps was disbanded in 1863 as the result of a dispute with the Signal Corps. Lowe's activities so impressed Count von Zeppelin, that Zeppelin created an airship program when he returned to Germany. After the Civil War, he was active as an inventor. He built a device to determine longitude and latitude without a horizon, the first commercial ice-making machine in the U.S., a refrigerated steamer, and a regenerative metallurgical furnace. Lowe moved to California and attracted world attention in 1891 by building a series of hotels and connecting inclined railroads in the mountains near Pasadena. He also built and equipped an observatory on the mountain that now bears his name. He died on 16 January 1913.
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