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Helicopters bring new training to MCAS Cherry Point

US Marine Corps News

7/10/2008 By Mike Barton, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. — Cherry Point personnel are beginning to get a brief glimpse of things to come with the arrival this week of a small group of helicopters on the air station – one of the first visible signs of a new squadron due here later this year.

Four AH-1W Cobras and three UH-1N Hueys, all from Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 775 Det A out of Johnstown, Pa., were scheduled to arrive July 9, bringing a new look to the Cherry Point flight line.

These aircraft will not be permanently stationed here – instead, the reserve unit will stay for only two weeks.

Its mission is to provide currency training for pilots and maintenance crews who have formed the lead cadre for HMLA-467, one of two squadrons that are slated to officially stand up at Cherry Point in October.

According to Maj. Allen Grinalds, HMLA-467’s advance cadre currently consists of 25 percent of the total number of personnel that will man the unit when it stands up.

This training with the visiting aircraft will help keep the cadre pilots’ flying skills sharp and will also help validate the work space needed for the new squadron.

Grinalds, the officer-in-charge of this cadre, will serve as the HMLA-467 executive officer.

“The intent behind this training is to work on instructor quals,” said Grinalds.

The cadre’s six pilots, who will later serve as instructors within the squadron, will rely heavily on the visiting pilots to regain their instructor currency and to tune up their piloting proficiency, explained Grinalds.

“This will also be an opportunity for our personnel to maintain their maintenance qualifications down in the ‘garage.’”

The visit will not only be a warm-up for HMLA-467 – it will also provide added benefits for the visiting aircrews and maintenance personnel of HMLA-775 Det A.

“This will be our active two-week training period,” said Maj. Alan Foust, the detachment’s operations officer. “It will provide us with refresher training, much needed flight time for our reserve pilots, and the opportunity to get on the ranges, which we don’t have up here.”

This is just the beginning of a new support mission for Cherry Point.

A second squadron, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, will stand up here in October as well.

HMH-366 aircrews will fly CH-53E Super Stallions, the heavy haulers of the air wing.

The aircraft that will eventually form both new squadrons will begin arriving later this year from various reserve unit locations.

The creation of these two squadrons will change the look of things around the air station.

Until now, with the occasional exception of visiting aircraft or helicopters bound for maintenance at the fleet readiness center, Cherry Point’s only helicopters were the search and rescue HH-46 Sea Knights flown by Marine Transport Squadron 1.

“Pedro” will now share the local skies with his combatant cousins from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

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