By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland / 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs: The U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate flew the Army’s final OH-58D “Kiowa Warrior” flight from Felker Army Airfield at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Sept. 19, 2017.
John Zimmerman, Aviation Development Directorate Aviation Support Facility manager, bows the OH-58D “Kiowa Warrior” during its final flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Sept. 18, 2017. Zimmerman has worked with the Kiowa since 1986. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland)
A Vietnam War-era helicopter, the Kiowa spent 48 years in service as a reconnaissance helicopter during operations including Just Cause, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In early 2014, the Army decided to retire the Kiowa fleet as part of the Army’s Aviation Restructure Initiative, ending the legacy of the aircraft.
“It’s a bittersweet day anytime you lose an aircraft,” said Joseph Shaw, ADD aircraft mechanic. “I’ve been working on this aircraft for nine years and it is truly one of a kind.”
The first 26 Kiowa Warriors in the Army fleet to be decommissioned came from the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Wainwright, Alaska in May 2014. As part of the ARI, the unit was later deactivated in 2015 after a nine-month deployment to South Korea. Soon came goodbyes from Army National Guard units in Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi. Static models of the aircraft are displayed in Tennessee and Mississippi.