Jul 31, 2012 - By Robert H. Peck, Staff WriterThough no balloons could take off from the Central Wyoming College soccer fields last week, another aerial vehicle was able to land there Monday.
But this one wasn't a balloon -- it was a Black Hawk military helicopter.
The chopper flew into Riverton for a public display as part of the Fremont County Fair's Military Appreciation Day. Aircraft enthusiasts turned out in droves to see the landing, which took place around 1 p.m. The vehicle was piloted by servicemen out of Cheyenne, who were treated to a brief honorific ceremony upon touching down at CWC.
The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter entered American military service in 1979, after its design won a U.S. Army competition for utility and tactical transport aircraft. Army resources put the chopper's maximum weight at 20,250 pounds and state that it can lift an internal load of 2,640 pounds, enough to reposition a 105 mm Howitzer and its crew of six, along with up to 30 rounds of ammunition, in a single lift.
The aircraft's cabin typically includes seating for 13 soldiers but can be cleared in minutes to create a "clean" cabin environment like the one displayed Monday at CWC.
In addition to the U.S. armed forces, the chopper is also notably employed by armies in Turkey, Columbia and South Korea, and plays a role in the military operations of 21 other states. Black Hawks have served during American conflicts in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Grenada, the Balkans and Afghanistan, among others.
The aircraft is manufactured in the United States by United Technologies and General Electric.
Though the helicopter was permitted to land for a ground-based display Monday, U.S. regulations prohibit the aircraft from being used in an aerial display, meaning that the chopper was unavailable for a flyover at Monday's PRCA rodeo as was originally advertised. But that didn't stop another aircraft from zipping over the event Monday to solidify the event's dedication to U.S. servicemen.
The Fremont County Fair continues today, with the animal exhibit halls formally open and the Royal West Amusements carnival up and running in the evening.
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