Face of Defense: USA — Army Guard Father, Son Fly Together

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.

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
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.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

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.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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