Retired Black Hawk pilot: Many training flights simulated actual missions

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During 21 years as an Army pilot, Bill Miller spent 5,600 hours behind the controls of Black Hawk helicopters.

He was stationed with the 25th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade and flew many night training missions out of Wheeler Army Airfield.

"We'd do a lot of work at Barber's Point, Kalaeloa. A lot of times we'd fly down around that way just go get some training and some navigation, some over water experience, and that kind of thing," he said.

Miller, 45, won't speculate on what happened during the downing of a Black Hawk off Kaena Point on Tuesday night, but says many of his training flights simulated actual missions to teach the crew how to avoid mishaps.

"A lot of times what we'd do is fly a route -- time, distance, heading -- and make sure that the folks know how to navigate and know how to operate those environments," he said.

Miller flew the UH-60, but adds the Black Hawks have different models. He said pilots on night flights may or may not be wearing night vision goggles.

"For night flying, you can fly unaided, which  is without any kind of enhancement or with night vision goggles, which is typically what would be used at night for most training missions and for most operations. That provides good visibility and a 40-degree field of view," he said.

Miller said a training flight is usually staffed with a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief and gunner. Five were on board the Black Hawk that went down off Kaena Point. His thoughts are with them.

"My heart goes out to the families and friends of everybody at this time," he said. "I know how it feels. It's not a pleasant process. I hope for speedy answers."

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