Feb. 24, 1966

Aviation Center Has Five ‘Star Boarders’

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Charles Black, Enquirer military writer, recently spent two days at Fort Rucker, Ala., one of the primary training bases for Army Aviation personnel.  This is the fourth of five articles by Black on the training facilities at Fort Rucker.)


Enquirer Military Writer

There are five “tenants” at Fort Rucker, Ala., who are star boarders where Army aviation and its development are concerned.

The Army Aviation School, commanded by Maj. Gen. John Tolson, is under the direct control of the Continental Army Command for academic programs under the U.S. Third Army for administrative matters.

The Army Aviation Center, which also is commanded by Gen. Tolson, is where the tenants of Fort Rucker live.  They have command channels to various other Army agencies through the second hat of Gen. Tolson.

The U.S. Army Aviation Human Research Unit is part of CONARC command. The Aeromedical Research Unit is directly under the surgeon general.  The Test Board is under Army Material Command.

Combat Developments Command Aviation Agency is under Combat Development Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., and the Army Board for Aviation Accident Research, part of the Department of Army Staff functions, is under the director of Army Aviation’s, Brig. Gen. Robert Williams.

Gen. Tolson’s second hat, commanding the Army Aviation Center, is an intriguing one.  All five agencies there are engaged in activities worthy of interest.

The Test Board does just what the name implies, it tests aircraft and equipment.  There is an amphibious evaluation of the CH47 Chinook, evaluation of the CV7 Buffalo transport, a full study of the CH54  Flying Crane, and many other evaluation programs carried out under the direction of Col. R. E. (Johnny) Johnson.

The work done by USABAAR has been one of the most important developments in the pioneering Army Aviation program.

As an example of what it does:  A 1st Cavalry Division Chinook crashed in July after engine failure.  USABAAR investigation traced the cause of the crash to a small metal particle shorting an electrical connection and causing fuel valves to close.  This report went to Boeing, the manufacturer, causing the plug to be modified to stop any recurrence.

(Some of the problems entailed in this kind of detective work may be appreciated when the sight of a wrecked helicopter spread out in a complex and unrelated display in one of the hangars can be remembered.  The work which goes through twisted metal and wrecked parts to a single electrical plug failure is scientific detection of the highest order.)

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