Photo Intermission – Land(ing) Ahoy!

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Well, here I am, back again from another extended leave of absence from taking care of this blog :). In my defense though, very little has happened at my little airfield these past few months – certainly nothing that bears writing about. Caught in a bureaucratic tango with the local CAA over its on-off operational certificate, Lučko had pretty much become a “ghostfield”, with fixed-wing operations few and far in between. Even the fine weather we’ve been having of late had lured back only a handful of aircraft, with most owners sticking to the administrative security of nearby Zagreb Intl. until the paper storm blows over.

This turn of events had, thankfully, made no impact on military helicopter ops – a good thing too, given what had popped into the field one day… 🙂

East meets West as a distinguished visitor to our sleepy little airfield floats past is derelict Mi-6... drawing quite a crowd, this was definitely one of the most interesting - if not the most interesting - aircraft to visit in years :). Probably the first naval machine too...

A very rare machine in these parts – regarded with as much awe and fascination as an Mi-8 would be in the West – 165778 is much more than yer stock Blackhawk. Actually an MH-60S Knighthawk – one of the Blackhawk’s many naval cousins – the type is most often found aboard smaller, faster ships and is primarily used for so called “vertical replenishment”, or VERTREP – which involves the airlifting of cargo between supply vessels and warships at sea. While this sounds harmless enough on screen, the actual endeavor involves the two ships sailing side by side – usually at speed and distances of just a couple tens of meters – with the MH-60S lifting underslung pallets of supplies between them. Add in high weights, small decks and a bit of rough seas and you can get a pretty good impression of what these machines go through…

165778 probably lives a more sheltered life, since it hails from the USS Mount Whitney, the command ship – and nerve center – of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet (hence the cryptic COMSIXTHFLT title on the door). The ship itself had arrived to Croatia several months ago for a major overhaul, so that may bear some relation to 165778’s visit…

On short final for the military helipad. Even though it strongly resembles a stock land-based UH-60, the MH-60S is actually a development of the SH-60 Seahawk, the H-60 family designed specifically for operations from ships. Oddly, while the SH-60 has its tailwheel mounted closer to the middle of the fuselage - to facilitate operations from smaller helipads on ships - the MH-60 has reverted to the classic layout seen on "continental" models...

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