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Guard fixed wing unit receives upgraded plane

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Tony Dohse, a pilot with the Washington Army National Guard's C-12V Detachment sits in the cockpit of the unit's new C-12 Huron Fixed Wing

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For nearly 30 years Chief Warrant Officer 5 Tony Dohse has flown in one aircraft or another as part of the Washington National Guard.

"I started in the Chinook and did that for four years, then I moved to the old C-23 Sherpa plane and now I am in the C-12 and have been here for about 10 years," said Dohse.

The transition from rotary aviation to fixed wing wasn't hard for him, as he had experience with the platform. He felt it was part of the natural cycle for him.

"All Army aviators start in the rotary wing, whether it be Chinooks, Blackhawks or now the Lakota," said Dohse. "It is really about timing and being in the right place at the right time to make the transition to the fixed wing platform."

For nearly 15 years, Dohse flew the C-23 Sherpa, until the U.S. Army retired the last Sherpa in their fleet in August 2013, which belonged to the Headquarters Company, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

As the Sherpa platform was retired, the Washington National Guard received the C-12 Huron, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft based on the Beechcraft Super King Air and Beechcraft 1900.

"I love our mission with the C-12, we get to fly around, meet a lot of people, see a lot of cool things," said Dohse.

The C-12 aircrafts are used for various duties, including embassy support, medical evacuation, as well as passenger and light cargo transport.

"On a federal deployment our mission is working with OSCOM, doing VIP support to the theatre. Our primary mission here in the state is to fly the TAG around in a timely manner and help get parts over the mountains," said Dohse.

The mission is unique, but so is the aircraft. And for the past 10 years the pilots have been operating with a 1984 C-12 Huron, which featured old technology and analog instruments. Just this past month the unit received an upgrade to a 1994 C-12V model, the newest version of the plane in the Army's fleet.

"We joke that yes it is an almost 30-year-old plane but it has a lot of upgrades with a new glass cockpit, all digital instruments, new interior and is a much nicer ride," said Dohse.

This upgrade however didn't just happen overnight. Dohse and Col. Dan Brewer, then State Aviation Officer for the Washington National Guard had to work a deal with the Army to get the newest version.

"We had a request for our plane to go on a deployment, so we actually traded back to an older model, but then we got an upgrade to a new V model," said Dohse. "This is a definite upgrade overall."

While the plane doesn't have Wi-Fi, USB ports, televisions in seat or any of the modern conveniences of the newer commercial airlines, it will get you to where you are going quickly.

"We can get from here to Spokane in about an hour. We go directly to where our passengers need to go and try to do it as fast and as efficient as possible," said Dohse.

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