Rising above textbooks

National Guard takes teachers up in Blackhawk helicopters


Photo by: Emma Barnheisel

Blackhawk Helicopter getting ready to take off to bring Pittsburg High School staff for a ride around Pittsburg.

Story by Hannah Gray, Print Co-Editor, Online Co-Editor

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, teachers could be found flying above the city of Pittsburg on a Blackhawk helicopter.

Blackhawks from Forbes Field in Topeka made their way to Pittsburg to give civilians a trip on the Blackhawk Orientation flight to learn about The National Guard.

“The goal of this is to take your leaders in your community flying and to introduce them to the program,” First Lieutenant Erin Mahoney said. “So when they have a student who comes to them and isn’t sure what they want to be after they graduate high school, they can hopefully share what the National Guard has to offer.”

Each round of flights took two groups in the air, one on each Blackhawk. In total, six groups took the trip.

Mahoney was one of the Blackhawk Helicopter pilots. She joined the guard after serving four years of active duty in the Marine Corps.

“I joined the military because I like the overall mission and I like the cause bigger than yourself,” Mahoney said. “After four years of active duty in the Marine Corps I wanted to move back home. So I looked at the guard as an option and spoke to them and they said ‘come fly a Blackhawk for us’.”

Before the flight, members were required to take orientation. They learned about the services The National Guard offers and some of the benefits associated with enlisting. Assistant Principal Chris Garzone was among the group of school members that went on the flight.

“Initially, I had no idea the power those machines have and being inside them during the flight I was just amazed by the power they produce, and how smooth they are in the air,” Garzone said. “I had a smile from ear to ear and it was like riding a roller coaster for the first time. I was so excited. It was awesome. I got goosebumps.”

Aside from the experience on the flight, Garzone was impressed by the orientation.

“The ride was great, but listening to them present the educational opportunities that the reserves can offer was very beneficial,” Garzone said. “So if a kid has any questions about what they need to do or where to begin, I can direct them towards that resource, to have contact information with them as well.”

Overall, Mahoney says that this is a great opportunity for the school and National Guard alike.

“[The school has] learned what the National Guard has to offer. So hopefully, they’ll remember what they learned today and be able to inspire somebody or give somebody a path that maybe would have had that,” Mahoney said. “And, the cherry on top of it, they get to go for a Blackhawk flight.”