By Sgt. Keven Parry
JUNCTION CITY, Kan – Five soldiers whose expertise lies in the realm of machines that fly tested their skills on an earth-bound machine Sept. 15 as part of a soapbox car crew that competed in a national derby held in Dallas, Texas.
“It was a blast,” Spc. Noah Kim, an aircraft mechanic with Company D, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, said. “[It was a] once in a lifetime experience.”
Kim was the team captain for Rotor Wash, the soapbox derby team made up of soldiers from 2-1 GSAB.
The team of five soldiers experienced their first soapbox derby by building a car modeled after a Chinook helicopter, one of the helicopters 2-1 GSAB has in their fleet.
“I thought it’d be pretty neat to make it, because we are aviation and the Chinook is an awesome helicopter,” said Sgt. Roger Pate, a Chinook helicopter mechanic in Company D.
The team members weren’t the only ones who thought the idea was a good one. Many of the race spectators who walked through the pit area showed their enthusiasm for the car’s design.
“People loved it,” said Sgt. Jeremy Connors, a Chinook helicopter mechanic in Company D. “There was no doubt.”
The crowd’s appreciation for Team Rotor Wash continued as the group prepared for their turn at the hill. With each team expected to perform a skit, the soldiers drew inspiration from YouTube. The team captain brought the team car into the launch pad using dance moves reminiscent of the “Aircraft Bringer Inner Dude.”
“Everybody went nuts,” Connors said. “It was so much fun up there on stage.”
Finally, the soldiers faced their true test – the hill – and the team had just one goal on their mind.
“We would like to make it all the way down,” said Spc. Matthew Gregory, an aircraft mechanic with Company D. “We’re not worried about being the fastest team. We’re [thinking] about just participating and just having fun with it.”
As the team navigated the course, they found the jump ramps causing them difficulty. The impact from landing caused slight damage to the car, almost causing the team to get stuck on the last jump.
“We barely made it up and over it,” Gregory said. “We just wanted to make it down the course, that was our whole goal, and we accomplished that.”