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Equipment for Airsoft Helicopter Operations

Blackline continues to refine our air mobile missions, and that means an ongoing assessment of the equipment we recommend our participants have with them. Every event, we review what worked and what didn't so we can prepare the next group.


This post covers off three main areas of kit:



Airsoft players in military uniform exit the helicopter on a snowy landing zone
Exit on the LZ

The Basic Equipment and Kit

As with all missions, the required kit will vary based on your mission objective. For this, you'll have to work with your team to define what you'll be bringing. When it comes to our air mobile training, we've come up with a pretty basic set of kit that you can use for most tactical missions


  1. Your safety kit - we go over this in more detail in our article about required kit, but essentially it covers eye protection, navigation, lighting, note taking, and communication.

  2. Your fighting load - tactical operations mean you'll need a weapon of some sort. You'll also want load carrying equipment. For the tight spaces inside a helicopter, consider streamlined plate carriers or chest rigs. A more jungle-ready belt kit is doable, but it can become bulky around your hips and take up extra space in the helo.

  3. Weather appropriate clothing - staying warm and dry is important. For short duration operations, you can probably get away with what you're wearing inside the helicopter. That may be a combat uniform or some soft/hard shell layers depending on the temperatures. We find most people never dip into a pack during short missions, but that's where you could store an extra layer if required.

  4. A brain - seriously. You're working near an incredibly dangerous machine. A wrong move on your part can kill you. You also get trained in safe operation of the equipment. If you're not focused on learning the important aspects of the helicopter, you won't be allowed to fly. Keep yourself and your friends alive, please make sure you bring your mental A-Game!




Recommended Equipment for Air Mobile Operations

If you've not operated around helicopters before, you might be surprised at the experience. They're loud, they're windy, and they're not always roomy.


  1. A balaclava or neck gaiter - the sand and dust gets everywhere. It's no exaggeration that people find dust or grit in their pockets months later. The use of a balaclava or neck gaiter means you can pull it up over your face to keep the dust out of your mouth and nose. You won't have to wear it all the time, but it's particularly useful during entry and exit on the LZ

  2. Full seal goggles - for that dust again. Even the smallest gaps in goggles can admit windblown sand. It's something you'll want to think about. They're not necessary, but they do make the experience more comfortable.

  3. A bump helmet - in all that excitement, you can impact the airframe. It's happened more than once to participants using helmets at our air mobile events. Again, it's not required, but thumping your head on the edge of a door is always possible. It also doesn't hurt to have one on the LZ with all the blowing sand and grit.

  4. A SMALL backpack - and we mean small. 10 to 15L is a good size, and even then you might not need one. Their primary purpose is to store items that can't be taken inside the helicopter. This includes smoke and frag grenades, as well as any HPA tanks. If you're running HPA, it would be best you bring your own pack. Otherwise, we've found teams have a lot of luck combining smokes and frags into one pack. That move expedites the loading and unloading process. The same can be done for any extra layers you're brining, or items that are too big to store inside the cabin.




Considerations

From our experiences with our airsoft air mobile ops, there's a few things that may apply more to airsoft players than others. However, the considerations are important for anyone working around the helicopter.


  1. Tall antennas - it's important to remember you might be taller than your helmet. Tall antennas must be stored or taped down prior to boarding and exiting. Not only are you going to want that secured during your time in the cabin, you'll also want to ensure it doesn't impact the rotor. Any damage to the blades will scrub your mission.

  2. Weapon attachments - secure them. We've found multiple times now that passenger's mock suppressors, laser units, sights, or slings aren't FULLY secured to their weapon. A good tug or knock and they'll fall off. Firstly you don't want to be the person who's kit is falling apart on the LZ, forcing you to scramble and gather it from under the seats. More importantly, any loose kit is at risk of becoming flying debris - putting you, your chalk mates, or the helicopters at risk. Expect your kit to be bumped and prodded prior to your first flight.

  3. Straps and buckles - lock them up and tuck them away. The wind is intense from the turbine driven blades. Straps and pouches that aren't secure will flop and flap around, and can get caught in doors, seat belts, and cargo bins. Get wired tight before stepping off.


If you want to hear more first person perspectives on the helicopter training, take a look at our guest post by Eddy, or listen to the podcast we did with a few of the participants.

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