“Above the Best”
From their humble beginnings working along side the Wright Brothers, Army aviators have been pioneers in aviation and they have played a key role in forming and shaping Army doctrine and tactics on the battlefield. Today, modern Army aviators perform a multitude of complex missions from patrolling the skies over modern battlefields while piloting unmanned aerial vehicles from remote locations to dominating the modern battlefield in the middle of the day or during the dark of night.
The Army first used light aircraft for artillery forward observation and reconnaissance in June 1942. Following the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service in 1947, the Army began to further develop its own aviation assets (light planes and rotary wing aircraft) in support of ground operations. The Korean War gave this drive impetus, and the war in Vietnam saw its fruition, as Army aviation units performed a variety of missions, including reconnaissance, transport, and fire support. After the war in Vietnam, the role of armed helicopters as tank destroyers received new emphasis. In recognition of the grown importance of aviation in Army doctrine and operations, Aviation became the 15th branch of the Army on April 12, 1983.
Facts about Army Aviation:
- 1979 – The first UH-60 (Blackhawk) arrived at Fort Rucker.
- 1984 – The Army received its first AH-64 Apaches.
- 1984 – Lt. Col. Robert L. Stewart, the first Army astronaut, walked in space.
- 1991 – An Army aviator fired the first shot of Operation Desert Storm from an Army helicopter. Within a few minutes, two teams of Apaches destroyed two Iraqi radar stations on Jan. 17.