Two aviators from the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s 302nd Squadron achieved a combined 9,000 flight hours on the CH-47 Chinook helicopter on the same flight out of Fort Hood on Jun. 2, 2021.
Two aviators from the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s 302nd Squadron achieved a combined 9,000 flight hours on the CH-47 Chinook helicopter on the same flight out of Fort Hood on Jun. 2, 2021, Alert5 first reported.
“It’s a unique moment and I’m proud of both of them,” Lt. Col. Martin t’ Jong, commander of the 302nd Dutch Squadron., 166th Aviation Brigade, First Army – Division West, said in in the article American, Dutch aviators reach milestones together by Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs.
Dutch aviator Maj. Jaap Lokker made history with 5,000 accident-free flight hours on the Chinook. During the same flight, retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Ryan, a contractor with the squadron, hit his 4,000 hour mark on the Chinook.
“To put that in perspective, 4,000 hours is about half a year of straight flying,” Tim Pool, the Team Oranje site lead for the squadron, said. “That’s a lot of time in one seat.”
Lokker joined the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) as an aviator in 1980. After flying 3,997.5 hours in the Alouette, a French light utility helicopter, he became the first Dutch aviator to go through flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, to be trained on the CH-47 Chinook.
“I’ve been flying for over 40 years,” Lokker said. “I have the most hours because I was the first and I continued to fly.”
Lokker said hitting the 5,000-hour milestone was special because both he and Ryan reached milestones together, and together had 9,000 hours of Chinook experience during that flight.
Ryan, who retired from the Army in 2018, thought he would never fly the Chinook again, until he began working as a contractor with the 302nd Sqdn. two years ago. The 20-year veteran serves as an instructor pilot, standardization pilot and instrument examiner for the squadron.
“When I retired I never thought I would fly Chinooks again, but it feels great,” Ryan said. “I enjoy this, I love it. It’s a great opportunity working with the Dutch out here and continue to keep flying.”
Lokker now has the 6,000-hour mark in his sights, although he said he has to retire in three years.
“Maybe I’ll come back as a contractor,” Lokker added. “Because I’m looking forward to continuing to fly.”
The RNLAF received the first CH-47F Chinook in April 2020. The service will operate a fleet of 20 CH-47F Chinooks, the newest configuration in use by countries around the world.
The 20 CH-47F Chinooks will be a fleet equipped with the same state-of-the-art technology as the U.S. Army, including digital automatic flight controls, a fully-integrated Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) glass cockpit, and advanced cargo handling capabilities. The common configuration leads to lower overall life cycle costs.
The RNLAF currently flies a mix of F-model Chinooks with the Advanced Cockpit Management System (ACMS) and CH-47D Chinooks.
Photo credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs / U.S. Army