Apache pilots train, compete at Fort Drum

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - Ever wonder how the 10th Mountain Division prepares its pilots? We got a firsthand look at a training exercise going on in the skies above Fort Drum and the competition between participating pilots.

On Wednesday, pilots with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade lit up the skies over Fort Drum.

First Lieutenant Nicholas Kane says it’s part of an ongoing exercise to train crews on Apache attack helicopters. Each craft seats two: One gunner and one pilot. The goal is to work like a well-oiled machine.

“So the gunnery crews will run through 10 engagements. It will be a mixture of 30mm shots, rocket shots, and practicing hellfire engagements,” said Kane, 1-10 Attack Battalion.

This particular exercise happens twice a year. The first took place earlier in the spring. Since then, Kane says crews have been counting down the days to October.

“It’s something we don’t get to do a lot. It’s only about twice a year so anytime we get to get out here and shoot and use the aircraft for what it’s meant to be used for, it’s a good time for all of us,” he said.

The exercise doubled as a competition with the best pair of pilots being crowned top gun.

“We actually have a belt at our hanger. They’ll imprint the pilot and co-pilot’s name on the belt and they’ll be able to carry it for the entirety of the next gunnery,” said Kane.

He said pilots will be taking to the skies through October 28.