Landing a helicopter on a ship requires an immense amount of concentration and expertise. Just a handful of individuals in the United States military are qualified to do so, and the training and practice required to master such a feat likely never ends.
In a 2016 video posted to YouTube, viewers are offered the chance to see firsthand a number of take-offs and landing qualification sessions conducted by pilots hoping to secure their place amongst the military’s elite.
The video features UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Washington National Guard attempting to land aboard the USS Shoup (DDG-86). The risky and delicate maneuvers are captured both from the ship itself and from inside the helicopter.
Check out the impressive video below:
The helicopter appears to sway back and forth just a few feet from the deck as the ship is jolted by the waves of the ocean. Once the crew spots the landing, the chopper safely plops to the tarmac with a playful bounce from its landing gears.
Just a few seconds later, the training crew must quickly take off again – flying backward no less – in yet another difficult qualification test.
Each chopper seats a number of different crewmen who have critically important jobs in helping the aircraft land. In the video, a guardsman can be seen poking his head out the window in order to see the landing spot more clearly.
The pilot and copilot remain collected as they communicate with one another to ensure a safe landing.
The onboard view of the training exercises reveals just how small the landing area of the ship actually is. Unlike a large aircraft carrier, the USS Shoup has room for just two helicopters at a time.
Also helping with the landing are a number of sailors who offer hand signals to help steer the chopper in the right direction. Dressed in bright yellow jackets to remain visible, the men directing the landing fight back against the intense wind produced by the chopper.