For many military spouses it can be extremely challenging to deal with separation. Separation not only plays a role during deployment, long work days and challenging work times can take a toll on some marriages. In appreciation of military spouses in the battalion, Lt. Col. Michael P. Bentley from 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment brought back a very special program, April 7, to give spouses the opportunity of a lifetime — to fly on an Army aircraft. The Spouses Orientation Flight Program is a provision in Army Regulation 95-1, that under strict guidelines allows spouses of rated and non-rated crewmembers to particpate.
“Building this appreciation helps families understand that it takes time and attention to detail to keep these aircrafts flying, and gives them a glimpse into the critical role Army Aviation plays during peacetime and during contingency operations” said Bentley. Bentley’s focus is on family integration, because he realizes that family stability plays a key role in readiness.
Forty-four spouses took the one-time opportunity and got a glimpse behind the scenes of the preparation and execution of a flight on board a Black Hawk helicopter.
“This is the very first time I get such an amazing opportunity,” said military spouse Audra Albert, who has been married to Maj. Cameron Albert for more than ten years.
Before the spouses got into the Black Hawk helicopters, Bentley thanked them for coming out and taking this “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Then, the 44 spouses were splitt into groups of eight and were introduced to the security guidelines of the aircraft. Most important of all, they were told to completely trust the professional crew on board and simply enjoy the flight. A few minutes later, the women were safely strapped into their seats in the rear part of the aircraft with ear plugs in their ears, a motion sickness bag on their laps (just in case), and their cameras ready. The experienced crew then took them on a one-hour flight along the Rhein River through the Middle Rhine Valley, which the passengers left with a big smile on their faces and a queezy sensation in their tummies.
“Amazing!” said Audra Albert who was happy she didn’t need to use her motion sickness bag. “This was a great way to see Germany,” she added.
“Now I can better understand why so many training hours are necessary to keep everyone safe,” added spouse Dawn Lilly.
The mission of the 1-214th Aviation Regiment includes the stabilization and transport of critical care patients, the movement of thousands of passengers and hundreds of pounds of cargo each year. To accomplish this, it takes a well-trained team said Bentley.
Bentley was happy with the turn out for the event and thanked every spouse for participating by presenting each one with a special certificate. The event was coordinated by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Boley, and Maj. Andrew Evans who spent many hours preparing to make the event a success.“We are looking at doing this again. We always try to improve family integration and readiness,” said Bentley.