JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The Alaska Army National Guard has been operating a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter out of Bethel since late January 2023 and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future to continue federal training requirements across Western Alaska.
While the aircraft and crew are stationed in Bethel for the purpose of conducting federal training requirements, they will remain available to provide emergency assistance as requested by the State Emergency Operations Center or Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.
The helicopter, assigned to the 207th General Support Aviation Battalion headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, has been stationed at the Army National Guard aviation facility since late January of this year and has conducted regular flights in the area.
The primary purpose of positioning the aircraft in Bethel is to allow aircrews – pilots, crew chiefs and flight medics – to stay current with flying across a range of challenging Alaskan terrain. Flying in Western Alaska for instance presents a different set of challenges and weather conditions as compared to flying in the mountainous southcentral region.
Such training enables the Guard to respond more quickly and effectively in the event of a homeland security or domestic emergency. On Feb. 14, 2023 at the request of the Alaska State Troopers, an Army National Guard crew flew the aircraft to rescue two overdue snow machiners suffering from severe frostbite near Tuntutuliak.
Since late January, six different flight crews have flown training missions out of the Bethel aviation facility logging more than 35 flight hours.