PATROL BASE BOLDAK, Afghanistan -- A three-man team consisting of two U.S. Marines and a British Royal Air Force airman conducted a helicopter landing zone study aboard Patrol Base Boldak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 20, 2014.
Landing zone studies are performed as often as possible in order to update requirements and the coordination needed to maintain the HLZ, as well as to ensure proper procedures and safety requirements are set in place.
“The most fun part about my job is conducting the HLZ surveys,” said Capt. Roger Collicott, the HLZ manager with Marine Aircraft Group-Afghanistan, and a native of Plainfield, Ind. “It's important to have accurate information in order to ensure safe operating procedures into and out of these landing zones, as well as proper security measures.”
A small convoy of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, which had provided the security for the Super Stallion’s landing, rumbles past the team disturbing the dust that had just settled back to the ground and heads back into the PB, as HLZ control greets the team.
“We have an HLZ directory that's given to all the air crews,” said Flight Lt. Seb Cannon, Mobile Air Operations Team commander, Joint Aviation Group, and a native of London. “It's an imagery analysis of any hazards, also any requirements or standard operating procedures, so we can let the pilots know what they're going into. It gives flight safety assurance to the commanders at the joint aviation group and also at the Marine Aircraft Group-Afghanistan to effectively let them know where they are sending their helicopters is a safe and secure environment.”
Receiving feedback and making a connection with the manpower behind the LZ control at each forward operating base and patrol base is another essential element of conducting HLZ studies, explained Collicott.
“It's good to have face-to-face time with the LZ control in order to determine that units are doing things correctly and safely,” said Collicott. “We get positive feedback such as what people are doing right and push that information, because it's always good to get an 'atta boy' every now and again.”