Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 8:39 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 53º


Flights Aboard Army Helicopter Give ROTC Cadets Chance to See The Sky’s No Limit

Flying south about a thousand feet above Montecito, the Army Blackhawk helicopter lurched hard toward the Pacific Ocean on the right, dove and made a stomach-churning U-turn. It was an aerial rollercoaster, the sort of move that can separate aviators from the happily grounded.

And that, in large measure, was the point, said Lt. Col. Travis Buehner, professor and chair of UCSB’s Department of Military Science.

Aside from a few civilians, the chopper’s passengers were cadets from the campus’s Surfrider Battalion of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), which provides leadership training to future officers in the regular Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard.

The flights from Santa Barbara Airport were part of the battalion’s Aviation Day, which gave the cadets a chance to experience the high life courtesy of the Army’s 1-140th Aviation Regiment based out of Fresno.

“What we’re trying to do is expose them to as many of those opportunities as possible, and this is one great opportunity,” said Buehner, whose usual assignment is flying Blackhawks.

He explained that when the cadets graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants, they’re assigned to a “branch” — field artillery, infantry, aviation, etc. The top 10 percent of cadets generally get to pick their preferred branch. The rest are assigned a branch based on a number of factors.

They can also opt to serve in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve. For cadets who want go into aviation — one of the most sought-after branches — the Guard is a good bet, Buehner said, as aviation officers are in high demand in California.

Capt. Jason Boatwright, a recruiter with the Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, who also serves with the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, was on hand to pitch the Guard to the cadets, many of whom are undecided on a career path once they become officers.

With the flights, he said, “We can expose them to some of the other branches. A lot of them don’t realize all their options as they get ready to enter the service.”

The flight gave cadet Maya Davis, a first-year kinesiology major, plenty to think about. For a time she was “fixated” on being a combat medic, she said, but the Blackhawk ride made her expand her options as she looks ahead.

“I have a lot of time to figure that out,” Davis said. “I’m either going medical or aviation. I wasn’t going to come today, but I made sure I was here to be able to experience this, be able to learn a little bit more.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us,” she added, “because there’s a lot of people who don’t know what they want to do; even some of the [third-years] don’t know. So it gives us the exposure we need to figure out what we want to do.”

— Jim Logan for UCSB.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.