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Army helo school tests aircrews high on jagged mountains

GYPSUM, Colo. — Coming from the relatively flat state of New Jersey, Capt. Matthew Munoz recently learned for the first time how to land a UH-60 Black Hawk above 12,000 feet.

As a National Guard pilot, Munoz normally does flight training with sling loads and hoists, or he transports Soldiers in air assault courses.For the most part, those missions allow a large power margin for his helicopter, meaning there is less stress on the aircraft.

But here surrounded by the Rocky Mountains in western Colorado along Interstate 70, it’s a whole new ballgame. The mountainous terrain tests helicopter pilots with risky landing zones on limited, uneven space often strewn with large rocks and trees.

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