I've been meaning to start this thread for a while now because I get PMed questions about it every few months, but this is the first time I've had more than a few hours to commit to it. Plus I've been waiting the last 2 1/2 years for W0X0F's thread to die out because I can't compete with that, but I realize now that will never happen. I don't think there will be too much overlap between the two topics anyway.
Qualifications: I've been in the US Army for over 9 years and accumulated nearly 1,500 hours piloting Black Hawk helicopters. I've been deployed to Afghanistan twice with a third round coming up soon. I've seen just about the entire country in that time, at least all of it with any significant population. I've flown nearly every mission type that a Black Hawk can be asked to do to include personnel and equipment transport, tactical insertions/extractions of both conventional and special operations forces, downed aircraft recoveries, VIP movements including generals, politicians and celebrities, direct engagement with enemies in defense of ground forces, and medevac.
Background: As of about 10 years ago I never had an interest in any branch of the military. I grew up expecting a career in computer programming because I had gotten into it at a really young age, I was good at it, and I assumed it paid well. My personality is definitely more in line with the typical programmer than the typical soldier. I started college in 2000, right around the time the dot-com bubble burst, and throughout my first year all I heard were horror stories about the tech job market. That made me really analyze my long term plans and I realized I wasn't going to be happy in such a grind of a career anyway. I made a fairly hasty decision to try something completely different. I tried to think of the most exciting career I would have a chance at obtaining and this is what I came up with.
I enlisted into the Army in early 2003 as a Black Hawk maintainer with the intent of applying for a flight school slot as early as possible. By late 2003 I had arrived at my first unit and started the long application process. It took until early 2005 to finish but my application was accepted on the first submission and I was starting flight school by the end of 2005. I graduated and moved to an operational unit at the beginning of 2007 and I've been doing my thing here ever since.
I'll answer any questions that won't get me in trouble or my security clearance revoked.
And here are a few pictures, in case you weren't aware how awesome Black Hawks are: