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News | Aug. 4, 2023

UH-1N Huey aircrew put water survival skills to test

By Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Aircrew with the 40th Helicopter Squadron conducted underwater egress training at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, Aug. 3, 2023, to simulate a helicopter crash into water and practice safe egress in a disorienting situation. 

The training, required every three years, is essential for placing aircrew in an environment where psychological and physiological pressure is great. Using a shallow water egress trainer chair, the aircrew members practiced multiple scenarios under water with and without sight and oxygen. 

Tech. Sgt. Michael Bilodeau, 582nd Operations Support Squadron noncomissioned officer in charge of SERE operations, provided the training for the 40th HS personnel. 

Each member took turns in the SWET chair being submerged upside down to practice removing themselves from the cage-like contraption. 

"This training helps with putting us in a situation that not only is physically stressful, but psychologically stressful," said Capt. Chase Todd, 40th HS pilot. "I would definitely say it's more psychological than anything. People get into their own heads during a worst-case scenario."

Bilodeau offered feedback and tips for the students as they demonstrated their egress strategies. Once all students completed the scenarios, he lauded the group for their application skills. 

"Everyone did an unbelievable job," Bilodeau described of the pilots, flight engineers and flight surgeon who completed the training.