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2011 Event
Alpine Exercise, Austria
Location: Aigen im Ennstal, Austrian Air Force helicopter base, Austria
Admission: by Invitation only
Parking: Free
Value: Priceless!!

Base location

Today, we are in Aigen im Ennstal at the Austrian Air Force helicopter base. The AAF twice a year, holds a special high altitude mountain exercise; the HGL. These special exercises last for two weeks each. This year the event started on February 28, at the Fiala Fernbrugg Base.
The Base is named after Benno Fiala Ritter von Fernbrugg, who was the third most successful fighter pilot of Austria-Hungary in World War I, (31 victories including 28 recognized). The base is located in Styria, about 10km southwest of Liezen, which is a part of Austrian Air Force air support wing. That base is also the home of the Fliegerabwehrbataillon 2 (Air defense battalion 2). The air defense system consists of the Mistral Surface to Air Missiles and the 35mm twin anti-aircraft gun 85, connected to the Skyguard 79 fire control radar. The helicopters which are based here are the Sud-Aviation Alouette III, offer excellent peripheral outward visibility to the crew, and are the perfect helicopter for flying close to the high peak of the Alps. 28 of this type of helicopters were delivered to the AAF in the beginning of 1967. Today about 20 are airworthy. The SA Alouette III’s are also based in Langenlebarn, Klagenfurt and Schwarz in Tyrol.
The SA 316B Alouette III is developed to operate in the mountains. The performance characteristics and configuration of these helicopters is for high altitude operations and are particularly well suited. The equipment with a winch and external load hook allows for versatility. Some of the Austrian Allouettes are equipped for FLIR-missions. Since that time the crews practice successful rescue flights in the night with winch retrieval.
The following missions were flown by the AAF with the Allouette III
  • External cargo transport
  • SAR-flights
  • Ambulance flights
  • Border surveillance flights
  • Firefighting flights with water tank on the external load hook
  • Photo Flights
  • Connection flights of all kinds

The first yearly HGL (High Mountain Landing) exercise starts at the end of February, and the second one is in September. By splitting the exercise into two sections it gives the participants a variety of weather and snow conditions that they can encounter in the Alps. In February they exercise to land in the snowy mountain peaks, which is extremely difficult for beginners, due wind conditions, depth of the snow, the condition of the snow, loose or hard and so on. In September the crews can practice the same routines without the snow. To perform the High Mountain Landings, and flying in the Alps is the pinnacle for the pilots flying helicopters.

This year, the AAF held one media day for a selected few journalists during exercise, and on March 3, I had the privilege to participate representing The Magazine by AirShowsReview. I would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Manfred Chladt, Public Relations Officer, AAF, from Langenlebarn, for the exclusive opportunity that was offered to us at AirShowsReview, and for organizing such a perfect event.
For a complete review of the exercise please download the April-May 2011 issue of The Magazine, available as of April 1st.
(2) Bell OH-58 'Kiowas' and a Sikorsky S-70A-42 'Blackhawk'
Sud-Aviation 316B Alouette III over the mountains.
Sud-Aviation 216B Alouette III and the Blackhawk
Sikorsky S-70A-42 'Blackhawk'

The AAF (Austrian Air Force) used (4) Sud-Aviation 316B Alouette III, (1) Agusta-Bell AB 212 from Linz-Hörsching, (2) Bell OH-58 “Kiowas” and (1) Sikorsky S-70A-42 “Blackhawk” from Langenlebarn.

Review and photos by Wolfgang Jarisch
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