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Famed 'Black Hawk Down' pilot works to help others
April 27, 2008
By SHELBY G. SPIRES
Pinnacle Solutions offers helicopter training simulations
If anybody knows how to develop a training simulation for Army helicopter pilots, it should be Mike Durant.
A 23-year Army veteran famed for his October 1993 shutdown over Mogadishu, Somalia, Durant retired from the Army in 2001. In February he started Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering support and simulation company that supports primarily Army aviation.
"What we have to offer the Army is skilled experience not only in the aviation world but also extensive experience in the special operations world," Durant told The Times last week.
Pinnacle develops a simulation software that allows potential helicopter pilots to train on computers on a military base or in their homes, he said.
"They can take this, pop it into their CD drive at home, or in their laptop, and can practice building their efficiency in these areas. It's pretty flexible and portable," Durant said.
Cockpit instruments and avionics can be taxing to pilots new and old, especially when new equipment and sensors are placed onboard an aircraft. To fly and fight effectively, pilots have to master toggling the right switches and monitoring the right radio frequencies.
"It's not just radios but also other elements" in the cockpit, said Jimmy Moore, Pinnacle's vice president of operations. "It can be a forward infrared looking radar (sensor) or others things. It's a pretty flexible trainer."
Durant, 46, is best known in military circles and in general for his experience as a prisoner of war after his UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade on Oct. 3, 1993, over Mogadishu. Durant was held for 11 days.
His experience was profiled in the 1999 Mark Bowden book, "Black Hawk Down," and the 2002 movie by the same name. Durant co-wrote a book on his experience - "In the Company of Heroes" - which was released in 2003.
His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
After recovering from his injuries, Durant flew for Army special operations in the late 1990s. After retirement, he became a speaker and consultant.
Now, Durant wants to use his extensive helicopter background "to offer that experience in business."
"This isn't the kind of company where somebody is going to walk up off the street and request our services," he said. "It's the kind of place where we know the needs of our customers. Hopefully, they will come to know our needs."
Durant said Pinnacle would also "like to grow into a resource for NASA also. There's quite a bit we can offer to the aerospace world."
Source: The Huntsville Times