CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Ga.- Certifying one’s son to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with night-vision gear takes the stress level up a notch – up about 500 feet from the ground to be specific; and that’s exactly what Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Button recently had the opportunity to do.
|Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Button reads the pre-flight checklist as his son, Army Warrant Officer 1 Daniel Button, checks the gauges of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. |
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Button, the commander of Detachment 9 — Operational Support Airlift, 78th Aviation Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard, spent the evening certifying his son, Army Warrant Officer 1 Daniel Button with Company A, 1st of the 171st Aviation Battalion, to fly at night with night-vision goggles as part of his readiness-level training.
The training requires a helicopter pilot to get certified to fly during the day and night, and with NVGs at the unit level. After initial certification, pilots are required to perform NVG flights one hour every 45 days.
“This is one of the proudest moments in my life as a dad,” Gary Button said. “It is the first time my son and I are flying; not only as father and son, but as pilot and co-pilot.”
Daniel Button, who recently graduated from flight school, said the opportunity to fly with his father is both exciting and nerve-racking.
“I feel a little pressure flying with him for the first time,” the younger Button said. “I want to do well and make him proud of me.”
“I’m already so proud of you,” the elder Button told his son.
The mission is for the younger Button to fly north toward the North Georgia Mountains, and once the sun has gone down, don his NVGs and continue on with the mission. Daniel Button also must fly in formation with other Black Hawks pilots wearing NVGs.
“I was up practicing last night, so I feel confident tonight’s flight will go smoothly,” the younger Button said. He’ll be deploying to Iraq with the 171st later this fall. This is his second deployment. His first was with the 82nd Airborne Division as a medic in 2004. He said he is excited about deploying as a helicopter pilot this time.
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