FORT WORTH, T.X. – The Lone Star State has always had a deep appreciation for both its rich military heritage and the thrilling world of motorsports. When these two worlds collide, it creates a spectacle that captures the hearts of Texans. One such breathtaking moment occurred when Troopers of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a stunning flyover at the Texas Motor Speedway on September 23rd, 2023. This unforgettable event showcased the skill, precision, and unity of the brigade’s aviation Troopers while paying tribute to the bravery of those who have served.

“It’s definitely very cool.” 1st Lt. Elizabeth M. Haas former platoon leader of Bravo Company, 2-27 Air Cav said. “I grew up going to air shows, so being able to see our Air Cav aircraft flying around and to be a part of something like this makes it truly special.”

Organizing a flyover involves meticulous planning and coordination between the First Team and the Texas Motor Speedway. The Air Cav’s aviation units, equipped with UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, undertook extensive preparations to ensure the flyover would be executed according to plan.

“There is always a lot of deliberate planning and rehearsals that go into a flyover,” Capt. Zachary Blevins, company commander of Bravo Company, 2-27 Aviation Regiment said. “We need to make sure we are all on the same sheet of music, depending on how many aircraft are involved or if there are other organizations involved, but it’s all rewarding in the end.”

The helicopters, iconic symbols of the division’s mobility and versatility, were adorned with the brigade logo. The crewmembers, skilled aviators and dedicated Troopers, underwent rigorous training to synchronize their movements and ensure the safety of the operation.

“It is a process of learning how to crew a Chinook such as knowing the systems and knowing how this thing actually flies to get it up in the air. “Sgt. Devon Council, flight engineer for Bavo Company, 2-27 Air Cav said.

On the day of the flyover, the atmosphere at the Texas Motor Speedway was electric. Thousands of fans waited in anticipation for the main event.

As race car drivers positioned themselves next to their vehicles, the national anthem began, and the crowd’s attention shifted to the sky. In perfect formation, the UH-60 Black Hawks soared overhead led by the CH-47 Chinook.

The collaboration between the 1st Cavalry Division and the Texas Motor Speedway highlighted the unity and pride that Texas has for its military. It demonstrated that, beyond the thrill of racing, Texans hold their military traditions close to their hearts. The flyover at the Texas Motor Speedway celebrated the spirit of patriotism and the enduring bond between the people of Texas and their military. The deafening applause and cheers from the crowd echoed the deep respect and gratitude Texans hold for their military.

“It’s quiet because of the national anthem but then all of a sudden there’s just applause and cheer in the audience.” David Hart vice president of media relations at Texas Motor Speedway said. “They see it coming from far away and as the helicopters get closer the noise gets louder and louder.”

The 1st Cavalry Division’s flyover at the Texas Motor Speedway was not just a display of precision flying and military excellence; it was a powerful reminder of the deep respect and appreciation that Texas has for its military heritage. As the helicopters disappeared into the distance, the echoes of their powerful salute lingered in the hearts of those who witnessed this breathtaking display of patriotism.

Aircrews with the Wisconsin National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment operated UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters Sept. 14, 2023, at Fort McCoy for a training operation at the installation.

Members of the unit regularly complete training operations at Fort McCoy and the unit also supports numerous training events at the installation each year.

According to the Army fact sheet for the Black Hawk, its mission is to provide air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control, and special operations support to combat, stability, and support operations.

The UH-60 also is the Army’s utility tactical transport helicopter. The versatile helicopter has enhanced the overall mobility of the Army due to dramatic improvements in troop capacity and cargo lift capability over the years as well, the fact sheet states. Now in its fourth decade of service, the Black Hawk was developed as a result of the Army’s requirement in 1972 for a simple, robust, and reliable utility helicopter system to satisfy projected air-mobile requirements around the globe.

Named after Native American war chief and leader of the Sauk tribe in the Midwest, Black Hawk, the first UH-60A was accepted by the Army in 1978, and entered service in 1979 when it was delivered to aviation components of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, the fact sheet states. Since that time, the Black Hawk has accumulated more than 9 million total fleet hours and has supported Soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed, including Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East.

Today, the Army continues to integrate emerging technology enhancements into the Black Hawk fleet to increase the performance, reliability, availability, and maintainability of the platform through addition of technologies such as the integration of the improved turbine engine; upgrades to the airframe, including an improved troop seat for additional crash-worthiness; and a lightweight, composite all-moving tail.

“Developing and fielding an aircraft that has earned and maintained an extraordinary reputation of remarkable service supporting Soldiers over a full spectrum of military operations these past 40 years is the direct result of the incredible efforts of all the government and industry teammates who have supported the Black Hawk program throughout the history of the program,” said Col. Billy Jackson, program manager for Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Utility Helicopters Program Office. “I’m exceptionally proud of this team and the herculean effort everyone puts in managing a very complex program with such sustained success.”

According to the Army Program Executive Office for Aviation, today, the UH-60 Black Hawk makes up the Army’s largest rotary wing fleet with more than 2,100 airframes in the current inventory. As production of the most current H-60M model continues, over the coming years the Army will divest its remaining UH-60A and L aircraft, to be replaced by 760 UH-60Vs.

With multiple versions of the H-60 Black Hawk in service, the helicopter is considered the “workhorse” of Army aviation. Besides being the U.S Army’s primary tactical transport helicopter, approximately 1,200 H-60s operate in 30 partner and allied nations.

“For nearly half a century the Black Hawk has served remarkably as the primary medium lift, multi-role helicopter for the U.S. Army. With planned major upgrades on the horizon, the platform will be a key component of the Army aviation fleet through 2054,” Army Program Executive Office for Aviation officials said.

In July and August 2022, the Utility Helicopters Project Office completed a “successful Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) of the UH-60V Black Hawk Helicopter at Fort McCoy,” as stated in a story by Paul Stevenson with the Office in August 2022 at

“The UH-60V is an upgraded variant of the legacy UH-60L with a digital glass cockpit and integrated avionics suite,” the article states. “The purpose of the test and evaluation (was) to demonstrate and assess the degree to which the aircraft meets its designated requirements and set the conditions for the full rate production point. The IOT&E began July 5 and during three weeks of preliminary testing, pilots flew more than 120 hours with five UH-60V helicopters under realistic battlefield conditions.”

(Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office with information supported from the Army Program Executive Office for Aviation.)

To equip the Army of 2030 and provide Soldiers with the very best capabilities for Combat Aviation Brigades, Army Aviation is executing a once in a generation modernization strategy. Investments span from targeted modernization of the enduring fleet to designing new Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft.

These changes require improvements to Electrical Power Systems (EPS) of the Army’s aircraft. The Aviation Turbine Engines (ATE) Project Office oversees power systems for the Army’s enduring and future fleet of aircraft. ATE is responsible for EPS modernization initiatives to ensure both enduring and future platforms are postured for supporting Multi-Domain Operations. The Project Office also manages the T700, T55 and the T901 Improved Turbine Engine programs.

The enduring fleet of aircraft continues in the field today to rely on 1970s and 1980s technology for EPS. These platforms are challenged with an ever increasing power gap as new technologies and capabilities are added to the aircraft. Electrical power loads and demands will continue to grow with the future integration of additional mission systems, customer equipment, advanced aircraft survivability equipment suites, and upgraded avionics and instrumentation packages in the coming years.

The Army’s EPS Initiative

A “key enabler” supporting Tier 1 Major Platform Programs, the FVL Cross Functional Team has designated the EPS initiative a Tier 2 Army Aviation modernization priority. Future EPS will use a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) for the design, development, and qualification of a common EPS solution for use on the Army’s enduring and future fleets. The EPS team is addressing the capability gap that exists between the supply and demand of aircraft power loads, recognizing the need for extra power for overall aircraft operation, a margin for reserve, and the ability to continue to grow and expand in the future. These efforts address current capability gaps in the enduring fleet and enable future systems and technology insertions for increased aircraft lethality and survivability. Using MOSA to design a common electrical systems architecture will result in a smarter, more capable power system which will address current electrical power gaps and meet future power requirements at reduced costs.

Supports Operational Energy

The EPS team recently competed and received Operational Energy (OE) funding for FY24-28 from the Office of the Secretary Defense (OSD) Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to support foundational electrical system and power management modernization. This additive funding will advance the Army’s smart power management, thermal management, reliability and maintainability, and safety of Army rotary wing aircraft.

This OE funding covers two major modernization efforts, the engineering and architecture modeling required to develop a common EPS technical data package and the design and development of a power management solution. The EPS team is working with platform original equipment manufacturers to define a modern electrical architecture for each platform as part of the engineering and architecture modeling effort. This effort includes both determining how the new technologies and components will interact with the existing systems, and defining a common architecture that will enable reuse of components between the platforms.

Power management systems modernization includes adding components such as electronic circuit breakers and a management controller that allows for automatic control of electrical loads during emergencies reducing crew workload and improving survivability. PM ATE working alongside the Army Contracting Command, Redstone recently awarded funding to develop the hardware for electronic circuit breakers. PM ATE will use this hardware prototype jointly created by DEVCOM C5ISR Center, DEVCOM Aviation and Missile Center (AvMC), and ATE to demonstrate future EPS capability and MOSA conformance. These improvements will reduce pilot burden, increase safety, and allow for more efficient aircraft operation.

The EPS team is using the enduring platforms as technology incubators to inform FVL requirements, thereby reducing future risk and streamlining technology insertion of common systems for FVL and enduring fleets. This system of continual learning and improvements has helped inform the development of aircraft power systems and create commonality, improve capability, and increase sustainability across the fleets.

The ATE Project Office is one of nine Program Executive Office, Aviation project offices. Located at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., the ATE PO is responsible for centrally managing the Army’s rotary wing turbine engine and electrical power capability for U.S. Army Aviation and coalition partners. Cindy Mitchell is an Avion Solutions employee supporting the Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office for strategic communications.

UH-60 Black Hawks and crews with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment participate in an airshow dress rehearsal event July 27, 2023, at Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Multiple units with Wisconsin’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard combined July 27 to hold a practice session of their airshow event at the airport at Fort McCoy.

The event, which was a practice for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., included Soldiers and Airmen and included field artillery, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, an F-35A Lightning II, and a KC-135R Stratotanker.

Fort McCoy was established in 1909 and its motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.

U.S. Army AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Battalion), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade fired 15 Air-to-Ground Missile (AGM) 114R Hellfire II’s at Karavia Range Complex, Greece, May 12, 2023. Five AH-64D and AH-64A Apache helicopters from the Hellenic Armed Forces participated in the live fire exercise, demonstrating the ability to mass precision fires as part of a multinational team. The live fire exercise was an opportunity to enhance readiness across the force and further build interoperability with host nation partners. 12 CAB is among other units assigned to V Corps, America’s Forward Deployed Corps in Europe. They work alongside NATO Allies and regional security partners to provide combat-ready forces, execute joint and multinational training exercises, and retain command and control for all rotational and assigned units in the European Theater.

DEFENDER 23 is a U.S. Army Europe and Africa led exercise focused on the strategic deployment of continental United States-based forces, employment of Army Prepositioned Stocks, and interoperability with Allies and partners. Taking place from 22 April to 23 June, DEFENDER 23 demonstrates USAREUR-AF’s ability to aggregate U.S.-based combat power quickly in Eastern Europe, increase lethality of the NATO Alliance through long-distance fires, build unit readiness in a complex joint, multi-national environment, and leverage host nation capabilities to increase USAREUR-AF’s operational reach. DEFENDER 23 includes more than 7,000 U.S. and 17,000 multi-national service members from more than 20 nations who will participate including, but not limited to: Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Gabrielle Hildebrand)

In my first ‘official’ duty as your President, what a privilege and honor to represent our Association by attending the recent Army Special Operations Aviation Command change of command at Fort Liberty and inducting BG Phil Ryan into the Gold Honorable Order of Saint Michael (OSM) as part of his pre-change of command awards ceremony. The Gold OSM is the pinnacle of the AAAA recognition pillar, and BG Ryan’s incredible service and contributions to the Army and Army Aviation exemplify the spirit of this significant AAAA program.

That being said, what a productive few days the National Executive Group (NEG) had in Connecticut a few weeks ago in mid-June. Your AAAA team of MG (Ret.) Wally Golden, Senior Vice President; BG (Ret.) Tim Edens, Treasurer; MG (Ret.) Todd Royar, Secretary (thank you MG (Ret.) Jeff Schloesser and nominating committee for identifying and recruiting him to join the NEG!), and I… along with Bill Harris, Janis Arena, and Laura Arena enabling and facilitating the engagement… reviewed our strategic planning for the next 3-5 years for our current and future AAAA administrations.

Together with our Vice President for Membership, CW4 (Ret.) Becki Chambers; and Vice President for Chapters, LTC Jan (Ret.) Drabczuk, and our Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, COL (Ret.) Shelley Yarborough, we all worked through various issues ranging from the implications of the recently adopted AAAA By Laws revision, to the appointments of new AAAA National Members at Large and committee chairs. I could not be more pleased with the teamwork, initiatives, and innovations expressed by all. We are working hard to make sure that you, our members, have a professionally rewarding, relevant, and fun next few years.

We identified some specific areas that will need refinement in terms of written policies and procedures that will help our chapters maximize your membership benefits and your experience through Networking, Recognition, Voice, and Support. Those four pillars form the foundation of the AAAA mission statement to “Support the U.S. Army Aviation Soldier and Family.” Your NEG and AAAA executive support staff are 100% locked on that mission; we take it very seriously and want you to know every decision we make is using that statement as our standard. We are all motivated and look forward to providing the very best support to our members that we can.

The NEG will be working on developing and initiating a few new programs over the coming months, as well as identifying and announcing our AAAA National Members at Large appointments and AAAA committee chair positions. Please, when you get messages from us through email, see our social media posts, or read something in the magazine that you have questions about or even disagree with, let us know. Your AAAA National Executive Board, and especially those of us in your National Executive Group leadership, are here to serve you. We depend on all of you for feedback.

We hope to see many of you at the upcoming ASE Symposium at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL September 11-12. And we are hard at work preparing for the Cribbins Readiness Conference, November 13-15, also in Huntsville; the Luther Jones Depot Forum in Corpus Christi, TX, December 5-6; and next year’s annual Summit in Denver, CO, April 24-26, 2024. Go to the AAAA website at for more information.

Again, I’m honored to have my turn as your AAAA President, and I truly look forward to working with you our members – Active, National Guard, Reserve, DAC, Industry, Veterans and Retired – to maximize the AAAA experience, and have a great time doing it!

MG Walt Davis, U.S. Army Retired
36th President, AAAA

Soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division participated in the Can-Am Festival on July 15 in Sackets Harbor, New York. The Can-Am Festival, which started in 1971, celebrates the national friendship between Canada and the United States.

The festival, which is celebrating its 51st anniversary, features music, a farmers’ market, children’s activities and more.

The 10th Mountain Division Marching Band marched in the parade in Sackets Harbor, performing for the crowd of attendees. In addition, Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade and the 10th Mountain Division Combat Aviation Brigade provided static displays for the festival and interacted with members of the community.

U.S. Army Capt. Michael Kirch, one of the Soldiers who worked the static displays for the Can-Am Festival, spoke about the importance of the division’s presence at this event.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t really understand what we do for military training,” Kirch said. “We’re here to support the community and help them understand the military a little bit more.”

“The Can-Am Festival is a great cross-border relationship for visitors from both sides,” said Connie Barone.

Barone is the site manager for the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, and a resident of the village since the 1950s. She expressed her appreciation for the military members of Fort Drum.

“Today, we have so many Fort Drum military individuals, plus the support, the families, and everyone it takes to run Fort Drum,” Barone said.

“They come to Sackets, they live in Sackets, and so this town has this really long history with the military and in particular, the Army.”

Another member of the community, Donald Matthews, a U.S. Army veteran and member of the Sackets Harbor Chamber of Commerce explained how important the festival is for the community and Fort Drum.

“Our military is nested right here in the North Country,” Matthews said. “With all these communities, it’s good to bring them together.”

Matthews also emphasized his gratitude and appreciation for the military involvement in the festival.

“I’m really happy that the military came out and Fort Drum had that outreach,” he said. “I think the local community appreciates seeing the men and women that serve our country, and having the chance to meet them and see what they do on a daily basis.”

Soldiers assigned to the United States Army Air Ambulance Detachment- Yakima (USAAAD), 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade performed an aeromedical evacuation of a civilian in Klickitat County, Wash. on Jul. 19, 2023.

The mission started when a paraglider was injured and sent a distress message to the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office. After determining that ground rescue would not be possible over the terrain the patient was located at, federal support was requested through the Washington State Emergency Operations Center for a high-powered helicopter with hoist capability to recover the injured civilian.

At 4:40 p.m., a USAAAD UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter departed Yakima Training Center for the Columbia Hills, a cliff formation on the Washington side of the Columbia River across from Rufus, Ore. The aircrew arrived at the location of the injured paraglider at 5:12 p.m.

“The patient was at about 1,400 feet inside of a draw, but the visibility was excellent, and the wind was calm,” said Maj. Alec DeGroat, USAAAD commander and pilot in command of the mission. “When we arrived at the patient’s reported location, we saw she was on a 30-degree slope, so we deployed our flight medic by hoisting him approximately 60 feet down from the hovering helicopter.”

The aircrew landed on a flat piece of terrain downslope from the patient’s location while the flight medic on the ground assessed the patient and prepared her for transport.

“The patient was conscious but had injuries to the head, ribs, and leg that were bad enough to make ground evacuation extraordinarily difficult,” Staff Sgt. Brendan Silkey, the critical care flight paramedic on the mission, said. “Once I was able to get to her it was a straightforward evacuation. I was able to assess her condition and prepare her for transport; we were able to hoist her out expeditiously. I was on the ridge for about 45 minutes.”

After the patient and medic were extracted via hoist, the aircraft transported the patient to MultiCare Memorial Hospital in Yakima and then returned to Yakima Training Center.

“Successful missions like this are a testament to our air ambulance crews and flight operations personnel that regularly train to maintain the necessary flight, medical, and operational skills for these kinds of missions,” DeGroat said. “From the time we departed for the mission, to the time we returned to Yakima Training Center was the span of less than two and a half hours. These Soldiers deserve every accolade they’ve received; I couldn’t be prouder to lead this organization.”

The unit is based out of Yakima Training Center in central Washington. USAAAD operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide aeromedical evacuation support for thousands of service members training at Yakima Training Center each year.

Additionally, the detachment works with the Washington State Emergency Operations Center, local sheriff departments, and civilian volunteers to provide rescue coverage in central Washington’s remote wilderness areas.

The life-saving aeromedical evacuation is a collaborative effort. As a detachment with 33 personnel and four UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters, every member of the team is vital to USAAAD.

The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade operates two aeromedical evacuation units that provide defense support to civil authorities: Yakima Dustoff in central Washington and Arctic Dustoff in central Alaska.

After more than 54 years of combined federal service, Rodney L. “Sande” Sangsland made his final landing in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Fort Novosel’s Lowe Army Heliport June 20, 2023.

He previously retired from active duty as a chief warrant officer five after more than 33 years of service, and then served as a Department of the Army civilian helicopter flight instructor at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence for more than 20 years. He has spent the past 11 years training rated aviators to transition to the M model UH-60 Black Hawk.

In Army Aviation, he did more than set a standard, he wrote the book on it: in his final active duty assignment as utility branch chief at the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization, he provided the basic training requirements for what would become the Flight School XXI program, and then became the standardization officer at the 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment implementing the program. His work continues to impact undergraduate and graduate level UH-60A/L/M aviators who train at Lowe.

“Mr. Sangsland’s dedication and professionalism are unmatched by the instructors around him and serves as a standard to emulate at all levels of flight training. Sande is a foundational asset to the members of Foxtrot Company, 1-212th Aviation Regiment, 110th Aviation Brigade, the Aviation Center of Excellence, and the federal service,” said Capt. Jesslyn F. Clark, commander of Company F, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment.

Sanglsand was a product of the Greatest Generation. His parents were born in the early 1900s and belonged to an era renowned for its patriotism, self-discipline, dedication and strong character — a generation that endured the Great Depression and viewed military service as one’s patriotic duty.

In a large family of 13 siblings, Sangsland had older brothers who served across multiple eras and conflicts including during World War II and Korea.

“Parents of World War II soldiers were giving people, but they were hardened. They stood steady,” he said. “The mentality now is more (focused on self) instead of giving to the nation. What you give is such a small part when you look at the whole. (Military service) really gives you a love for your country.”

In the late 1960s, Sangsland was at a point he felt his life wasn’t going anywhere. “I was going to college but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. They were having sit-in’s and love-in’s and all the protesting, and I didn’t want any part of that.”

He decided: “I’ll go do something for my country.”

In those days military service was what people did, he said.

“Everybody went into the military. It made boys grow up. Now we have kids at 25 (years old) still living at home. At (that age) I was training Greek military personnel in Greece in the Greek language,” he said.

He initially enlisted in the Army in 1969 as an infantryman and became a light and heavy weapons specialist. He served with the 10th Special Forces Group, with Greece as his area of interest. He became SCUBA and HALO qualified, and was the distinguished graduate of the NCO Academy and Ranger Course, earning the Merrill’s Marauders award. He went to several language schools learning Greek, Thai, and Spanish with ease. Sangsland also trained students for the School of the Americas as a Spanish Airborne instructor.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said, noting the camaraderie and the travel.

He planned to serve for only a few years, but the Army turned out to be more than he expected. Sangsland’s experience at his first unit is what made him decide to stay in the Army.

“I skied Mount Olympus in Greece, all the way up to 12,000 feet. That’s where Zeus lives — I didn’t find him when I was up there,” he said with a smile. “I reenlisted after that trip.”

He served with Special Forces for eight years, including in Panama and in Central and South America.

In the late 1970s, he served with the U.S. Army Parachute Team known as the Golden Knights, and enjoyed not just the precision jumping, but also the professionalism.

“Here’s another wonderful job, probably the best job an enlisted person can have,” he said. “The team was extremely professional, you had to have a spotless record — you represented the Army, and had to be cordial. It was all manners, always clean cut,” he said. “It was a mission I was very proud to do.”

In 1979, Sangsland’s military journey brought him to Fort Novosel (then-Fort Rucker), where he became a warrant officer aviator flying the UH-1 Huey. He soon became qualified in the Black Hawk helicopter. He deployed in support of Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, where he earned an Air Medal with Valor.

In the mid-1980s, he served as a Spanish speaking UH-1 instructor pilot for the U.S. Special Operations Command El Salvadoran Co-pilot course (Huey helicopters) at Fort Novosel. His focus then returned to the Black Hawk, completing the instructor pilot course and eventually becoming a standardization pilot. He served as a method of instruction platoon leader. He developed and taught the first Spanish UH-60 aircraft qualification and IP courses for the Army. He also served in support of “Plan Colombia,” which aimed to combat drug cartels and insurgent groups.

He supported Operation Just Cause in Panama, which sought to restore a democratically elected government and remove a dictator who was wanted for drug trafficking charges. Sangsland was responsible for the standardization of multiple aircraft operations within USARSO. He developed and implemented the Command Rotary Wing Environmental Training Program for the UH-60 including mountain flying, dunker, deck operations and high-altitude flying operations (flying with oxygen up to 18,000 feet).

In the early 1990s, Sangsland returned to Fort Novosel as a Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization subject matter expert for the UH-60.

He served in Heidelberg, Germany with 207th Command Aviation Company supporting the U.S. Army Europe commander. He planned and executed the helicopter deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina for commander stabilization force support (NATO operation), establishing operations in Sarajevo, and maintained a split-based standardization program between the Central Region and Sarajevo during Operation Joint Endeavor.

In the late 1990s he returned to DES at Fort Novosel to become the utility branch chief. He represented the Center for Army Lessons learned in Albania and Kosovo, and also developed training requirements and provided oversight for the UH-60 AQC for the Colombian military.

After retiring from active duty, he worked as an Army civilian at 1-212th in various roles including as deputy standardization officer, instructor pilot, instrument examiner, and standardization pilot for the implementation of Flight School XXI.

During his time in federal service, Sangsland amassed more than 10,000 hours of flight time in the aircraft and simulator devices.

Sangsland said he was fortunate to have the support of his own loving family throughout his federal service, and to make career decisions together with them. His daughter Becky recently wrote in a social media post that she had always seen him as “just dad,” until other people explained what his career commitment to excellence really meant.

“You do realize that your dad is a Ranger too, right? And that he was the top graduate, Merrill’s Marauders? … Friends who were going through Flight School XXI would be studying their Blackhawk manuals and say, ‘You do realize your dad wrote this manual, right?’ Or when Perry and I first started dating and his pilot friends would say, ‘Sande? You mean the godfather of army aviation?’”

She wrote that Sangsland has lived “a life dedicated to something bigger than himself, bigger than all of us. A life dedicated to excellence in everything, whether big or mundane. A life of sacrifice, born of love for this country and what she stands for, what she can be. A life of service, faith, learning, and leading.”

Looking back on his career, Sangsland said the Army opened new opportunities, gave him a different palate including an affinity for exotic foods, and it also taught him tolerance.

“I’m much more accepting of people that look different than me,” he said. “You have to look at the character.”

The Army also gave him something that he believes young people need.

“What do the youth look forward to? They need a mission in life. Whatever that is, if it’s raising a family correctly, that’s a mission. Whatever you’re doing — if you can contribute and make it better and people are learning, it keeps you healthy,” he said.

In the Army, “you can have such a feeling of accomplishment. You don’t get it any place else,” he said.

When asked if there are any “takeaways” that he might leave on the dry-erase board for future generations of students when they cycle through the same classrooms and aircraft where he has instructed, his first thought was attributes of character and good judgment.

“The prevailing thing is truth,” he said. “Don’t lie. Don’t even shade the truth. No matter what the consequences are. Always, always be truthful — with your wife, in everything. Truth is paramount.”

He emphasized Army Values of loyalty, integrity and personal courage.

“Have the courage to speak the truth without being judgmental. It can be done in the smallest ways,” he said.

Those values show up even in even routine tasks and decision making.

“Yes, we need to fill out the book. The job’s not done until it’s done,” he said.

“And very small things, like a hard landing — if there’s a doubt, shut the aircraft down. So you find out there’s nothing wrong with the aircraft. That’s good,” he said.

Or, maybe a situation arises midair: “You have a bird strike. You saw something go streak across the windshield but you don’t know where it is. You think it’s gone. Did it go into the engine? You don’t know. Don’t continue flying. Land the aircraft,” he said.

He also emphasized thoroughness after the mission.

“Look the aircraft over. Someone else is going to be flying it next. Don’t just put your stuff on and leave. Check everything,” he said.

He also emphasized consistency and tenacity.

“Be tenacious to do what is right and to seek out what is right. You’ll recognize right when you see it. Uphold it. Live by it,” he said.

“Not every student can you teach all of that to. They come from so many backgrounds. But even in a small way if you just teach a part of it, they begin to understand it,” he said.

One nonnegotiable for Sangsland is a mandatory reading of Army Regulation 95-1 in its entirety.

“Regulations and procedures — when you know them you have freedom and confidence,” he said. “You read the books to know what the right and left limits are. This will guide your life as an aviator. You can have all kinds of freedom inside that. When you don’t know them, you’re always wondering ‘what am I doing? You’re always guessing.’”

And finally, be teachable.

“There have been people that have touched my life — they’ve said something that just made so much sense to me when I was doing something wrong,” he said. “When you realize that, make it right. Maybe you’re doing something wrong and it just hasn’t caught up with you yet, you know? When you know, start doing it right and pass it on.”

The U.S. Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopter is and will remain the Army’s Attack helicopter for the foreseeable future.

The Apache Project Office (Apache PO) has steadily upgraded the Apache since it was first fielded in the 1980’s. The upgrades have produced the world’s premier attack helicopter which is used by the U.S. Army and more than 16 allies around the globe.

The AH-64E Version 6.5 (V6.5), is the next version of the Apache Helicopter. It will include an upgraded software program to increase its survivability on the modern battlefield.

Aligning with the Program Executive Office, Aviation common configuration strategy, V6.5 establishes a common Operational Flight Program software baseline across the Apache E model fleet.

“We’re very excited about the ongoing development of the V6.5 software as it paves the way for Apache modernization including the integration of the ITEP engine,” Col. Jay Maher, Apache project manager, said. “V6.5 aligns the entire E model fleet under the same software, streamlining training and maintenance while providing a pathway for sensor/capability parity.”

Other V6.5 technology enhancements and insertions include upgrades in lethality, survivability, situational awareness, navigation, and communication. It also introduces an Open Systems Interface (OSI). OSI is an initial step towards a more open systems architecture, which will ultimately allow rapid insertion of new technologies and enhanced capability in future updates. The Apache PO developed the V6.5 upgrades to address DOD security mandates, Army Aviation and Army Capabilities Manager (ACM) Attack/Recon priorities, and the 2019 Version 6 Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation findings.

Although software heavy, V6.5 includes several hardware insertions, requiring a modification work order that will support the retrofit of all V4 series and V6 series Apache E-model aircraft to V6.5. To date, V6.5 has successfully completed its Systems Readiness Review, and the Preliminary Design Review. The next program major milestone, the first flight, is scheduled for fall of 2023. The V6.5 development program is slated to conclude in 2025 and version 6.5 fielding via aircraft retrofit is currently targeted to start in FY26.

In FY25, the Apache will receive additional software and hardware updates as it integrates the Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) for Developmental Testing (DT). Upon completion of the DT, the Apache will support the Advanced Turbine Engine (ATE) office in the Operational Test & Evaluation for the ITE program.

“We look forward to integrating this more capable engine onto the AH-64E and performing the necessary testing so one day we can get this into the hands of our warfighters,” Katie White, ITE Integration assistant product manager, said. “The Apache ITE Integration team has done a tremendous job collaborating with the V6.5 team, Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office, Boeing, General Electric, and other stakeholders to enable successful integration and qualification activities.”

The V6.5 is on schedule for the First Flight in the fall of 2023. The program is slated to conclude in 2025 and fielding via retrofit is currently targeted to start in FY26.