Blackhawks Land on Nicholson Front Lawn, Provides Training for ROTC


Bailey Noel

Blackhawk helicopter flies over RMU’s Nicholson Center

Nathan Breisinger

The Nicholson front lawn was converted into a military training area for a brief period of time on Thursday morning as the Robert Morris Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and members of the Three Rivers Battalion participated in a specialized training exercise that saw four Blackhawk Helicopters touch down in the heart of Robert Morris University.

For 10 minutes, campus came to a halt as the four Blackhawk helicopters descended onto the front lawn of the Nicholson Center – the most that has ever landed on campus at one time. Once the helicopters made it safely to the ground, nearly 40 Cadets and Cadre loaded into the Blackhawks.

Provided by the Army National Guard, the Blackhawk boarding procedure and flight is a part of the ongoing training for ROTC members.

“They are going to give us some training on how to properly load and unload a helicopter,” Captain Alexander Larson said.

For a majority of the ROTC Cadets, it was their first time loading into a Blackhawk helicopter.

“I’m excited,” Robert Morris ROTC Cadet Mark Danna said. “There’s a first time for everything.”

Leading up to the procedure, the Cadets were given instructions on how to load into the Blackhawks with engines running, which helped ease any nerves about the operation.

“That’s the thing I like about our Cadre. They give very clear and concise details on how the operations are supposed to go. We’ve gone over it in our squads, so it should be smooth,” Robert Morris ROTC Cadet, Anastasia Heinold, said.

Not only does holding a training operation at Robert Morris allow current ROTC students to participate, but it also provides an opportunity for the campus to witness military training.

“We’ve seen them before in other training flying overhead, but as kids are trying to get to class and they see four helicopters landed on the Nicholson front lawn, it’s going to be cool,” Heinold said.

“Landing on the Nicholson lawn is a great advertisement for the ROTC program here and some of the cool things we can do,” Larson added.

As quickly as the Blackhawks landed, they were right back into the sky with the Cadets and Cadre loaded. The ROTC members will now be flown to Camp Garfield in Ohio.

“This weekend we have our field training exercise and they will be doing tactical training, shooting and land navigation,” Larson said

Although Campus Drive and Massey Way were closed for nearly 20 minutes by RMU Police, Moon Township Police and the Moon Township Volunteer Fire Department, the Blackhawk landings and loadings were successfully completed and the ROTC Cadets and Cadre will continue their weekend at Camp Garfield.