The U.S. Army retired its last Bell TH-67 “Creek” primary training helicopter at a ceremony this week at Fort Rucker, Alabama. A derivative of the Bell 206, the TH-67 fleet grew to 181 aircraft and was employed by the service between 1993 and 2020. Army TH-67s logged more than 1.9 million hours and trained more than 25,000 students.
“If you’re an Army aviator who began your aviation career between 1993 and 2020, the odds are pretty good that the TH-67 Creek helicopter was the foundational tool on which you built your aviation tradecraft,” said Lt. Col. Keith Hill, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment commander.
The Army began gradually replacing the single-engine TH-67 with the twin-engine UH-72A Lakota—a militarized version of the Airbus Helicopters EC145—in 2016 as it eventually built its training fleet of the latter to 204 aircraft. The move to the more complex UH-72A was controversial, but the Army defended it saying it provided the opportunity to integrate simulators into primary training, allowed students to stay with the same airframe longer, and better prepared them to fly more sophisticated twins such as the UH-60 Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache, and CH-47 Chinook. Since 2006, Airbus has delivered more than 460 UH-72A Lakota helicopters in nine configurations to the U.S. Army, Navy, and National Guard.