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Sunday, January 1, 2006

Rotorcraft Report: U.S. Army Aviation Post Celebrates 50th Anniversary

MILITARY

U.S. Army Aviation Post Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Fort Rucker, Ala., home to both the U.S. Army Aviation Center and its newly designated Flight School XXI, celebrated its 50th Anniversary last October.

The military base started out as Camp Rucker in 1942 as a training camp for soldiers on their way to World War II. Following that war, the camp was simply evacuated, leaving behind the temporary barracks, empty and unused.

At the beginning of the 1950-53 Korean War, Camp Rucker was reopened as a training base for that conflict. However, the Korean War started a handful of forward-thinking Army officers looking at the true potential of the helicopter in combat. On Oct. 13, 1955, the newly designated Fort Rucker became a permanent Army installation, with the Army's flight training program transferred from the Air Training Dept. of the Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla.

With the advent of the Vietnam War, flight training was split between Fort Wolters, Texas, just west of Fort Worth, for primary flight school, and Rucker, where advance flight training was done. Fort Stewart was later added for advanced aircraft type training. Then, in 1973, all flight training was again consolidated at Fort Rucker.

Last October, Fort Rucker reorganized its flight training program into Flight School XXI, a new concept in flight training in which students transition from the basic training stage in TH-67 helicopters (the trainer equivalent of the OH-58) straight into the UH-60, CH-47, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior or AH-64 Apache that they will fly once they have graduated and been assigned to their permanent units.

Fort Rucker has also become the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

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