Vietnam conflict helicopter gunner to speak at Aero Club

Gary Vacin

A Sun Lakes resident who served as a torque (scout-door gunner) on helicopters during the Vietnam conflict will be featured speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club gathering Monday, January 21, at the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room.

The event begins with coffee and camaraderie at 6:30 p.m., followed by the presentation at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend. George Abernathy flew with Apache Troop 1/9th Cav Division from June, 1970, to February, 1971. He initially started flying as an Oscar (enlisted man co-pilot) but later became a scout door gunner in a Hughes OH-6A Cayuse helicopter.

Abernathy said the unit’s primary mission was to fly slow right-hand circles at tree-top level with the intention of drawing enemy fire. Objective was to bait the enemy into a fight. Flying in coordination with a Cobra Gunship was referred to as a “Hunter-Killer Team,” among the most hazardous of the Vietnam war. Cobras flew circles 1,500 feet above the scouts, waiting to pounce on whatever the scout found.

Abernathy’s presentation is the third in a series at monthly Sun Lakes Aero Club gatherings. The events are scheduled the third Monday of each month, November through April. Future presentations follow:

February 18 – Bob Bishop, President/CEO of Aerial Productions International, will give a briefing about the world’s smallest jet and national defense.

March 18 – Phil Brewer will talk about his experiences flying the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft.

April 15 – Col. Jim Evans (USAF Ret.) will talk about the attack on German dams carried out in 1943 by the Royal Air Force using purpose-built “bouncing bombs.”

For more information on the club, contact Cannon Hill at 509-539-7857, Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017 or visit the club’s website,