Black Hawk helicopters practice landing at Memorial Hospital

April 18, 2017

AUH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is pictured.
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Fort Carson approaches a rooftop helipad at Memorial Hospital Central. Fort Carson pilots practiced landing the aircraft on Monday and Tuesday. Photo by Jeffrey Johnson, UCHealth.

After the first of two Fort Carson UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters landed cat-softly on the rooftop helipad at UCHealth Memorial Hospital on Monday, an instructor pilot from the Army post beamed with pride.

“That looked beautiful,’’ said Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Lett, an instructor pilot who helps train Army pilots to medically evacuate wounded soldiers.

The unique training gave Fort Carson pilots a chance to experience what it’s like to land the 59-foot-long helicopter on a 58-by-58-foot pad on top of a hospital. The hardest part, Lett said, is that the pilot can’t see the back of the aircraft and must rely on a crew chief and medic to ensure that the aircraft lands squarely on the pad.

A UH-60 Black hawk helicopter is shown practicing landing on the rooftop helipad at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central.
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Fort Carson lands on the rooftop helipad at Memorial Hospital Central.

“It gets us into the habit, so the adrenalin level (in a real emergency) is a lot lower and everything is a lot calmer,’’ said Lett, who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. “If and when we need to drop patients off at Memorial, it’s as seamless and as smooth as possible.’’

Fort Carson’s choppers landed on the same helipad used by Memorial Star Transport, a smaller aircraft, which transports critically ill or injured patients to Memorial’s emergency and trauma teams.

“It’s a unique thing to do for an aircraft of this size,’’ said Lett. “Most of all, we want the crew to know what it feels like to land on a rooftop helipad.’’

The pilots are part of the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade.

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.