A CH-47 Chinook military helicopter landed on Sentinel’s soccer fields as part of an aeronautics class.


Isabelle Burgess

A picture of a CH-47 Chinook military helicopter from the front, up close.

On October 7th, 2022, a military helicopter landed on Sentinel High School’s soccer fields as a part of an event for the school’s aeronautics class, and on board, several military personnel were present. The event, coordinated mostly by the teacher of the class, Joseph Yakawich, was the first one to take place at the school, and may continue happening throughout the years under his guidance. 

The helicopter landed around 11:00 AM that morning, and took off around 12:30 PM, staying for about the length of two class periods. Yakawich claimed that a second one, a Blackhawk, was supposed to make a landing on the same fields, however was pulled aside for a different reason. “Which is always the danger when you plan these things… last minute changes happen”, he stated in an interview. The helicopter in question was a CH-47 Chinook, and is one of the largest military helicopters available in the west, having two large rotors built for heavy lifting. Inside, it can carry a few dozen people.

It was quite an amazing experience.

Joseph Yakawich

During the 90-minute timeframe of its landing, many classes, including photography and automotive, got to view the helicopter up close, some even getting a chance to tour the inside. Most classes in the school did not get a chance to see it, and some weren’t even aware of the landing. However, some bystanders not associated with the school got a chance to witness from afar, with some of them gathering along the soccer fences to see the massive helicopter. Not only was the helicopter on display for many students, both inside and outside, but many of the military personnel and cadets there provided stories and unique bits and pieces of knowledge on the helicopter. In the interview, Yakawich said, “Some of these cadets were Sentinel graduates… they go right into training out of high school.”

The large aircraft has two pilots, typically, and on the inside, it can carry up to 44 seated personnel. The blades of the rotors are wide enough to cover an entire human, and are angled in a specific way to not collide with one another while it is in the air. In the military, it is mainly used for cargo transportation and heavy lifting, however it can be used in emergency situations for search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster relief, parachute drops, and aircraft recovery. Because of its massive size in being one of the biggest U.S. military helicopters, many refer to it as the “workhorse” of the fleet. The helicopter is catered to cargo, with a large ramp folding off of the back entrance and many other spaces to store items.

With the landing of the CH-47 Chinook, many different classes and students got a great opportunity to view and learn more about the military and its vehicles, and how they operate and what they’re used for. Witnessing the aircraft was an experience many people would not get to go through, and due to Yakawich’s planning, many students will carry the experience for a long time.