top of page
  • Writer's pictureMason Edwards!

Tennessee National Guard Sends UTC Soaring

By Mason Edwards, Staff Writer for the University Echo

The Tennessee National Guard lifts off from Chamberlain Field. Thursday, April 21, 2022. Seth Carpenter, Photo Editor.

With a little help from the Tennessee National Guard, a flock of Mocs took to the skies, touring Chattanooga in style.

When two Black Hawk helicopters landed on Chamberlain Field around 1 p.m. Thursday, April 21, droves of people flocked to watch. Dotted around the greenery, police and National Guard members cleared and barred students from the field, making room for the birds.

To the uninformed, the attack helicopters drew some initial panic, but thankfully, the servicemen and women answered everyone’s question: why?

UTC faculty and other university-associated persons load up onto a Black Hawk Helicopter. Thursday, April 21, 2022. Seth Carpenter, Photo Editor

“The program here and the National Guard are just holding an event for some of the administration and the University as a whole to see some Black Hawks,” Cadet Benjamin Johnson said at the scene. “It started earlier today with a luncheon and some talks.”

As it happened, one scheduled flight had extra space, much to the delight of the University Echo Photo Editor, Seth Carpenter. He photographed a UTC staff writer earlier in the year, who recognized Carpenter.  

“They saw me taking photos, and were like ‘hey, I could probably get you a spot on the helicopter…’,” Carpenter remembered. “They said, ‘You seem like you’re really good at photography. I feel like you could make some great photos with that.’”

“Me, dumbstruck at the opportunity to ride in a helicopter was like, ‘yeah, I like photography,’” Carpenter said. “From there, I just stood in line, and I was on a helicopter.”

Ricky Akridge sits in the Black Hawk's fuselage. Thursday, April 21, 2022. Seth Carpenter, Photo Editor

“When it initially lifted off, it was almost like we just weighed less,” Carpenter said. 

He compared the feeling to riding a rollercoaster, albeit less intense, and he only felt it a handful of times.

In the rush of excitement and distractions, Carpenter forgot to grab earplugs while in line.

“I stood next to it for like five seconds while it was running, and my ears started ringing almost immediately,” he said. “Thankfully they have a lot of stand-by plugs in the helicopter.”

Photographing high-motion objects or people, like helicopters or athletes, is particularly tricky. Carpenter lowered the shutter speed to help, but needed to keep the camera stable to avoid added motion blur.

A Tennessee National Guard Black Hawk flies over Chattanooga. Thursday, April 21, 2022. Seth Carpenter, Photo Editor

“Not only was I dealing with the fact that I had to keep my elbows together, but also I was dealing with the moving helicopter [in front of him] and my moving helicopter,” he said. “It was a little bit tough… but it came out with some really great photos I’m really happy with.”

Those pictures almost didn’t happen, with Carpenter worried about his camera–wrapping it around himself several times–and thankful he brought it in the first place (he always carries it). From the start, the stars simply aligned the right way.

“Just prior to the helicopter showing up, I was scrambling to charge my camera and download photos to my SD card so I had enough space,” he recalled.

He delighted in talking about the ride, hoping to get an opportunity to photograph from a helicopter again. 

“I’ve been in airplanes, where you have this tiny little window,” he elaborated. “To be in a helicopter–the doors are kept open–to just see campus and the crowd of people slowly shrink… it really gives you a sense of scale.”

The Chattanooga Riverfront is calm in the afternoon. Thursday, April 21, 2022. Seth Carpenter, Photo Editor

Then, when they landed, Carpenter watched as the forceful helicopter downdraft dispersed spectators.

“Whenever the helicopters would come back to land, the wind was crazy,” he said. “They had a bunch of boxes and papers set up at the Chamberlain pavilion to give to people once they got off the helicopter. My helicopter… sent all that stuff flying away. There were boxes and papers and people taking cover from stuff getting launched.”

A Tenneessee National Guard Black Hawk flies above Chamberlain Pavillion. Thursday, April 21, 2022. Seth Carpenter, Photo Editor

“When I got up in the morning, I knew what was happening,” he said. “I never would have guessed, ‘I am going to ride in a Black Hawk helicopter above Chattanooga….’”

1 view0 comments


bottom of page