Warplanes: AH-64s Rigged For External Passengers


September 9, 2007: Weapons officers of U.S. AH-64 helicopter gunships are practicing riding on the outside of the helicopter (where the wing merges with hull). It's loud, and not particularly risky, if you use a harness and  ear protection ( from the engine noise). The purpose of this drill is to enable AH-64s to perform rescue missions, especially of wounded troops (including the crews of downed helicopters) who cannot safely ride on the outside. Practicing this maneuver makes it safer, and quicker, to do in an emergency. Actually, up to four external passengers can be carried. Two on either side of the cockpit, and one on each wing. AH-64s have earlier made daring rescues of troops by having them lashed to the wing and flown out of danger. 


Helicopter crews tend to be people who get off on risky behavior, so it was probably not difficult to get the troops to undertake this kind of training. Special Operations troops have long practiced riding helicopters from the outside, so they can get into action more quickly.