Advertisement

Fort Polk retires one of the army’s oldest helicopters

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:43 PM CDT
Email this link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - If you live near the Fort Polk area and heard helicopters flying over your home during lunching time on Thursday evening, you probably heard the OH-58 Kiowa. The helicopter went on its last ride as the military installation decided to retire that particular model. The OH-58 Kiowa started its service in the army during the 1960s.

“The amazing thing is the average age of these aircraft are 50-years-old,” Trey Swofford, a retired pilot said.

"Yeah, this one was built in 1968," Tyler Smith said. "This is our oldest aircraft."

As twin-engine helicopters became more popular, the OH-58 Kiowa began to lose its relevance in missions and became a training aircraft.

"Actually this is what we learned how to fly in flight school," Lt. Col. Connie Lane said. "So, I started flying the OH-58 Charlie back in back in 2000."

OH-58 Kiowa Helicopter
OH-58 Kiowa Helicopter(KALB)

The OH-58 Kiowa will be replaced by the UH-72 Lakota model, which is a twin-engine helicopter with four blades on top.

"It's the next generation," Scott Jones, army pilot said. "It's kind of fitting that I did learn how to fly on this helicopter, and this will be one on my last flights in this helicopter [OH-58]."

Many people watched as eight OH-58 Kiowa helicopters took off in the air for one last flight.

"We'll get like ATC controllers who will thank us for our service and [then] they'll come on the radio like, 'I was in the army 30-years ago and did something with that aircraft.'" Jones said. "That for me has been kind the experience, [and] you are not going to get that nostalgia with a new model."

There are only nine OH-58 Kiowas on Fort Polk and the majority of those will be going to law enforcement as they will continue to serve the community.

Copyright 2020 KALB. All rights reserved.

Latest News

Latest News