Temple University’s R.O.T.C. program held its biannual field training exercise, which included landing two Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters. The helicopters air-lifted cadets for instruction and practice at Fort Dix, N.J.
The two transport helicopters blew onto the track at 15th and Montgomery Streets, with their twin turbines and tandem-rotors.
The noise from the landing of the aircraft on the track attracted a crowd of onlookers – a majority of whom were young children. The event had a strong effect on one 9-year old girl who watched the event.
“I’m going to join the Army,” she said.
With the commotion of the helicopters landing and taking off, a large crowd of spectators gathered to watch. Those gathered included young girls and boys, most of whom have never seen a helicopter up close.
Most of the people in the crowd were unaware that the activity had been planned for the university’s military unit.
“We were inside our house, then the noise started shaking everything. The baby started crying, and we didn’t know what was going on,” North Philadelphia resident, Sari Sampson, said.
However, she wasn’t disappointed when she found out what was going on.
“It’s good for the kids. They enjoy it,” Sampson said.
The children had a barrage of questions and comments. They wanted to know what it is like inside the helicopter, why the Army landed in North Philadelphia, where they where taking the students and whether there were guns in the helicopter.
Temple’s R.O.T.C. program currently has 145 cadets enrolled. Every semester the battalion travels to Fort Dix for a field training exercise. Throughout the weekend, cadets practice skills in a Field Reaction Leadership Course.
Cadet Staff Sergeant Dollard, a transfer student from The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, described some of the objectives of the course.
“The course stresses night navigation skills. Cadets are assigned to groups of five, and attempt to pin-point strategic locations at night, thus stressing teamwork and accuracy,” Dollard said.
The cadets climb a large Tower and then they rappel down by rope. In addition to the course exercise, the cadets are able to fire M-16 assault rifles.
“This is a great program. I like it a lot,” Dollard said.
While the R.O.T.C. program takes the battalion to these activities every semester, this was the first year they transported the cadets by helicopter.
These helicopters can hold up to thirty-three passengers and a weight of about 25,000 lbs. They fly at a maximum speed of 170 knots, with coasting speeds of 130 to 140 knots. This translates to a ten-minute flight from Temple University to Fort Dix.
Persian Gulf War veteran and pilot, C.W.O. John B. Schmidt, explained a few of the military uses of the Chinook.
“The primary missions of the air-craft are for the transporting of troops, artillery, fuel, and other supplies to ground forces. The Ch-47’s can hold two Humvees,” Schmidt said.
He also said there are two brand new engine systems on the helicopter.
“The military is upgrading the Chinooks engine systems to provide service well into the year 2030.”