Saving the Army's CH-47

May 30, 2019
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I am a Chinook pilot. I always will be ...

Almost half of the 6,000 plus total hours I’ve flown in my career took place in the legendary Boeing heavy-lift Chinook. During my second tour in Vietnam, I spent around 750 hours in the CH-47B while flying for the 132nd Assault Support Helicopter Company "Hercules."It kept me safe in the skies over Vietnam, and I was proud to continue flying the Chinook when I got back stateside. The CH-47 defined my flying career with the U.S. Army and the California Army National Guard. After returning home, I continued to fly the Chinook for the National Guard, accumulating an additional 2,000 hours with the 49th Medium Helicopter Company “Delta Schooners” out of Stockton, CA.

I can confidently say that the Chinook is the best, most versatile helicopter available to the U.S. military – thanks in part to constant innovations, modifications, and improvements incorporated over time. I flew the A, B, C and D models and my time ran out before I could fly the CH-47F. The Chinook in use today has little in common with the helicopters I flew. It's been upgraded for the modern battlefield with a digital cockpit and advanced airframe. Right now, it is the strongest, fastest, and safest helicopter in the U.S. Army.

During my decades with the Army National Guard, I not only became an instructor pilot but also had the privilege of commanding a Chinook Company and Battalion. This wealth of background knowledge and experience instilled in me an enormous amount of pride and respect about my helicopter, its mission, those that flew the CH-47 and importance to America's national security.

Whether in combat or conducting stateside missions, there is nothing the Chinook cannot accomplish. Its heavy-lift capabilities, range, and speed enable it to get personnel, equipment, and ammunition where it's needed when it's needed.  I also hear it is about to get an upgrade. Due to the Chinook's multi-mission commitments that have been added over time, the Army needs to increase its heavy-lift capability to continue achieving the mission. This next-generation Chinook Block II would be able to lift an additional 1,500 pounds. When it comes to delivering soldiers into active combat zones with all of the equipment, armor, and ammunition they need to get the job done safely, this 1,500 pounds could mean the difference between life and death. 

Although I am now retired my experiences with the Chinook will always be with me, as I know they are for everyone else who had the honor to fly, crew, and maintain the CH-47. I've heard rumors that the Army wants to cancel future Chinook manufacturing prematurely, but know that cannot be true. The Chinook will continue to be the enduring capability for heavy lift. There is no reason to stop building the best cargo helicopter available.

In war and peace, Boeing did it right with the CH-47. There is no replacement for my Chinook – the only replacement is more CH-47s.


Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Thomas Edward Lasser (USA Ret.) spent seven years on active duty with the U.S. Army and another 33 years with the California National Guard. Thirty years of that which was fulltime status with the California Military Department. Tom is a Vietnam veteran. He is now consulting for his own firm, T. E. Lasser & Associates, LLC. He is a master Army aviator with over 6000 flying hours including more than 1000 helicopter missions in Vietnam and almost 1800 combat flying hours. His military decorations include:the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Air Medal with 35 Oak Leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medals, Bronze Star and other commendations, service awards and campaign ribbons which reflect over forty years of military service.



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