Oklahoma Sailors Experience Extreme U.S. Navy Training
NORFOLK, Virginia - From our landlocked state, to the wide-open ocean, many Oklahomans who join the Navy find themselves surrounded by water. All aviators and air crewman go through survival training, so they're prepared if disaster strikes.
News On 6’s Chris Newsome and I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to experience first-hand the survival training Oklahoma sailors must go through.
Amy: “I'm sitting inside what's known as the "dunker," preparing for my last breath. There's no going back now. The water is rising, and I'll be spinning 180 degrees.”
"For some people it can be a little nerve-wracking, because you're strapped into a seat and then they're putting you in the water and asking you to stay seated until everything stops," said Naval Air Crewman Brian Ackley.
It felt like several minutes but after holding my breath for 18 seconds, I’m back above water.
Amy: "I did it! Oh my gosh! Oh, Chris you need to try it!"
But before I was dunked, I went underwater for some training that was a little less intimidating.
"Ready there, Tulsa?"
I practiced swimming in full flight gear, pushed my way through a window, treaded water for two minutes, and got used to spinning into the water, all before stepping inside the dunker.
It's the same training people like Naval Air Crewman Brian Ackley from Sapulpa go through.
"Every four years we have to get into the dunker and we have to learn to escape the helicopter in case it were to do a water landing," said Ackley.
Because the reality is, he might need it. Ackley flies in the MH53 Echo. He loads cargo and looks for mines underwater.
"I've had a couple scary moments," Ackley said. "We had actually lost an engine in flight."
Ackley said the crew followed their emergency procedures to a tee and brought the aircraft home safely.
"We've had a couple shutters in the aircraft, some violent vibrations and we've had to, next thing you hear, the pilot's like, get ready, we're going into the water," Ackley said.
He will be going into the water for his next training in 2020.