January 17-18, 2009

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USMA takes possession of new helicopters

STEWART AIRPORT- Dignitaries traveling to and from West Point by air will now be traveling in more style, as both helicopters used for those purposes have been replaced with newer, more modern aircraft.

Two brand new UH-72A Lakota helicopters Friday officially replaced the 38 year-old UH-1H Iroquois helicopters used over the past few decades for transporting West Point leaders and public officials, among other notables, to and from the campus.

"Primarily helicopter support for West Point is used for V.I.P. travel," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Daniel Jollota, commander of the West Point 2nd Aviation Detachment at Stewart Airport, where the two new choppers now call home. “We pick up dignitaries in the city and bring them to West Point, or give aerial tours to V.I.P.'s.  We also support the general officers at West Point for official functions.”

Jollota said their first official mission will be picking up one of West Point's top officials this weekend. “The flight down to the Pentagon to pick up the three-star Lt. General (Franklin) Hagenbeck, who is the superintendent for West Point, will be the first official flight for him," said Jollota, referring to the lead helicopter.

Other purposes for the Lakota's include cadet training missions, providing for jump points during aerial sessions, and support for the cadet parachute team during sports events.

The replacement of older model helicopters and jets is part of a bigger cause, said Jollota. "Part of the modernization plan for the Army is to replace all of the UH-1's, OH-55's and the UA-60's.  The UA-60's are going back to the war, and the 58's and UH-1's are going to various law enforcement agencies and various other places, probably the bone yard, or as we say, the retirement yard."

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