Feature story The UH-72A flies to South Dakota for a powwow with the Lakota Sioux

September 24, 2008

EADS North America’s UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter visited its namesake American Indian tribe in South Dakota this week during a trip that also included a fly-past of Mount Rushmore.

Two UH-72As from the 5th Aviation Battalion at Fort Polk, Louisiana, were present for the Lakota Sioux’s annual sun dance in Rosebud, South Dakota on Monday, with the pilots invited to participate in the traditional ceremony that honors the tribe’s warriors and elders. 

The UH-72A was given its Lakota designation in keeping with the Army's tradition of naming rotary-wing aircraft after native American Indian tribes.  Requests for the naming originate with the tribes, and their history and traditions are required to be aligned with the helicopter’s characteristics and uses in Army service.

Known as a peaceful people, and “'one with the earth,” the Lakota tribe provided a good match-up with the UH-72A – which is utilized for a variety of U.S. homeland security, logistics and support missions. 

During this week’s UH-72A visit, the Light Utility Helicopter was able to perform missions on behalf of the Lakota people, as the 5th Aviation Battalion’s pilots flew aerial photography flights over each of the tribe’s holy sites that currently are being compiled in a local university project.

As part of the UH-72A’s deployment to South Dakota, the Light Utility Helicopter made a flyby of Mount Rushmore, providing a spectacular setting for this new member of the U.S. Army’s rotary-wing inventory.

The 5th Aviation Battalion was the second active duty unit in the Army to receive Lakota helicopters, which are used to support the Joint Readiness Training Center with distinguished visitor/VIP flights and personnel movement on Fort Polk.  The battalion also is in the process of training and qualifying for an array of other missions with the UH-72A.

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