West Texas Helicopter pilot Rhyse Gehrett is familiar with low flying helicopter maneuvers. He's taking us over the North Overton project so we could get a birds eye view of destruction.
Gehrett says we're riding close to the ground which is also a similar technique being used in Iraq. "This is about 300 feet. This is a fairly low altitude right here. Assessment of damages or battle damages assessment or actually just scoping out the area for intruders for ground support with the helicopters over there in Irag. This is about the altitude that a lot of those Cobra and Apache helicopters would be flying to cover those troops," said Gehrett.
Apaches flying low, providing massive protection to troops below. Some helicopters are reportedly hit by bullets, but still manage to keep on flying. On the homefront, Gehrett shows us how helicopter pilots try to avoid the enemy fire. "So what the pilots often do when their flying into urban areas, they'd do these 'S' patterns to where they're weaving in and out. They won't ever hold a constant tracking. They'll constantly be maneuvering the helicopter back and forth so no one can fix on the aircraft," said Gehrett as he demonstrated with his Raven helicopter.
It's a risky job, flying helicopters. Being so vulnerable in the air during war. Gehrett can vouch for that. Not that's he's flown in a war, but you could say close to it. "How do I know? Because I was once in the military," Gehrett said.
Gehrett says what could typically be a 13 hour flight for pilots, was a 15 minute flight for us. A taste of the helicopter and it's purpose in Iraq.
If you've got an itch to see what the ride is all about, you can experience it for yourself. Just call Rhyse Gehrett at (806) 781-6334.