Silver Eagles

 

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United States Army Aviation Precision Demonstration Team

The Silver Eagles were organized in 1972 to demonstrate the capabilities of Army Aviation and to stimulate public interest in the modern Army.  The mission of the team was to assist US Army personnel procurement and retention efforts by creating awareness of career opportunities available in the Army.  The team contributed to the public understanding of the role of Army aircraft by demonstrating proficiency and versatility in the performance of precision helicopter flight before military and civilian audiences.  

The Silver Eagles performed in more than 220 airshows between 1972 and 1976.  The teamís first public performance was at Cairns Army Airfield, Fort Rucker, AL, on May 20, 1972, as part of the postís Armed Forces Day Celebration.  The first official performance was at Transpo í72 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC on May 27, 1972.  The teamís last official performance was at NAS Pensacola, FL, on November 1976, and the last time the Silver Eagles performed was on November 23, 1976, at Knox Field, Fort Rucker.

Utilizing seven OH-6A Cayuse helicopters, the Silver Eagles were the only helicopter demonstration team in America at the time.  None of the maneuvers accomplished were considered stunts or daredevil feats; all were flying techniques Army aviators must master.  The secret behind the very smooth success of a Silver Eagle performance was practice, teamwork, coordination, alertness and physical conditioning. . . and more practice.  

The Silver Eagles flew seven aircraft during each demonstration: Lead, Left Wing, Right Wing, Slot, Lead Solo, Opposing Solo and Bozo the Clown.  Bozo wore the face of a clown and performed antics to entertain the audience while the other aircraft were positioning for the next maneuver.  Speeds and altitudes of precision maneuvers ranged from zero miles per hour at ground level to 140 miles per hour at one thousand feet.  The most unique thing about the performance was that there was at least one helicopter performing in front of the crowd at all times during the 35 minute presentation.  

Based at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the Silver Eagles consisted of 25 handpicked enlisted volunteers and 12 exceptional officer aviators.  Each member of the team had a single-minded dedication to the constant improvement of his own, as well as the teamís performance.  Each recognized this as the only means by which he could insure that the Silver Eagles would remain a showcase professional military unit, second to none.