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Home : News : Features : Display
NEWS | June 23, 2014

Technology helps 128th Avn. Bde. students

By Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This story is part of a series highlighting the 128th Aviation Brigade mission.

Enlisted Soldiers who keep U.S. Army helicopters airborne attend the 128th Aviation Brigade's Advanced Individual Training curriculum before being assigned to permanent duty stations. One of the things that makes the school so unique are the technological advances used in training tomorrow's maintainers.

In September 2011, the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School was transformed into the 128th Aviation Brigade, providing training and brigade-level command and control over its staff, faculty, cadre and students. The Fort Eustis-based brigade now is home to two training battalions and a student battalion.

The brigade was recently recognized by receiving the Army Superior Unit Award for efforts during its transformation from the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School.

The award is presented to any unit that displays outstanding meritorious performance of a difficult and challenging mission carried out under extraordinary circumstances, said Mark Jones, 128th Aviation Brigade deputy to the commander.

"For the 128th Aviation Brigade, being recognized with the award ties the legacy of the USAALS to the history of the brigade, keeping the spirit alive," said Jones. "All Service members assigned to the brigade and its subordinate units received the award. It is also assigned to civilians so they too have tangible evidence of their hard work and accomplishment."

The 128th Aviation Brigade's AIT schools include maintainers, aircraft electricians and avionic students for the Apache AH-64, Blackhawk UH-60 and Chinook CH-47.

As part of an advanced curriculum, students learn using computers and laptops connected to training aircraft, and soon, interactive touch-screen trainers.

"Before the new training techniques, instructors had a different way of teaching," said Sgt. Maj. Martin Moreno, 128th Aviation Brigade senior training developer. "They had to learn from cut-open pieces of aircraft to actually get to see inside of it. Now with the new technology, students have the ability to see that on a screen and pick it apart."

Once students have spent their first few weeks in classrooms learning the basics of equipment and safety precautions, they move to the training floor, said Staff Sgt. Joseph Batts, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment medium repair supervisor course instructor.

"When I went through the course, I had 15 paper books to learn from," said Batts. "Now we are able to reach out to the new generation of students through technology."

The students also get hands-on training with older-or newer-model training aircraft, said Moreno. Newer-model trainers look almost identical to active aircraft but have different components added for training purposes, such as windows on sections that are typically covered or monitors mounted on the sides. These functions allow students to access manuals while allowing the instructors to direct students through various tasks.

Moreno said he feels the technology serves a critical role in teaching because the students are able to learn more efficiently with the new capabilities.

"The aircraft have computer systems connected to them, which hook up to the instructors' computers," said Moreno. "The instructors are able to give the students a task and track their progress."

To help with the current demand for Army aviation Soldiers, the Brigade works in three shifts throughout each 24-hour training day.

That training schedule also allows for smaller class sizes, giving the students the more one-on-one interaction with instructors.

Private Jesse Watson, F Company, 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment, 128th Aviation Brigade Chinook maintainer AIT student, said he benefitted from the program's technologically advanced instruction.

"We have laptops that virtually walk you through exactly what you need to do," he said. "It gives us warning and cautions and won't let you progress unless you do it properly."

For Watson, the instructors, curriculum and capabilities have not only solidified his learning, but reinforced why the brigade is an award winning unit.

"My instructors have helped me so much since I've been here," said Watson. "At times they were hard on me, but that was because they had something to teach me."