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Officers reminisce on Apache training in US

TAIPEI--Army officers on Friday shared their happy and bitter memories of undergoing training in the United States to learn how to fly and maintain Taiwan's newly acquired AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

“To be honest, it is really not easy to fly an Apache helicopter, and it requires a lot of time and effort,” said Lt. Col. Yu Chih-lung, who headed the group of Taiwanese military pilots who were trained in the U.S.

His remarks came during a ceremony at an Army Aviation Special Forces base in Tainan to officially mark the delivery of the first batch of six U.S.-made Apache helicopters.

One of the most difficult parts of learning to fly an Apache, Yu said, was getting used to wearing a special pilot helmet that has a display sighting system, which is used to track the target.

The design includes a device put in front of the eye of the pilot to see the displayed images.

In the beginning, it was very challenging to fly the helicopter with that device on the eye, Yu said, adding that several trainees had headaches due to parallax, the condition of an object appearing as if it is positioned differently when looked at from different angles.

“Some were so sick they were sent to the hospital,” he added.

But after practicing for a couple of months, the pilots were able to adapt to the helmet-mounted display sighting system, said Yu, an OH-58D reconnaissance helicopter pilot before being transferred to fly the Apache chopper.

Another of the officers who went to the U.S. for training was Maj. Chen Lung-chien, who fell in love with an American woman during his year there.

Chen said they met at a Taiwanese restaurant last year, where the woman was working. His girlfriend later came to Taiwan with him after his training was completed.

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President Ma Ying-jeou tries on a helmet for an Apache AH-64E while sitting in the cockpit of the new helicopter received by the Army, yesterday. Ma said procurement of the Apache ...

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