Some 50,000 troops, tens of thousands of vehicles, and all their gear and supplies have descended on Norway, where they're taking part in Trident Juncture, NATO's largest military exercise since the Cold War.
Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen are jetting around Norway and through the air over the Baltic and Norwegian seas during the exercise, which NATO says is purely to practice defending an alliance member from attack.
Also present at the exercise is one of the mainstays of US Army aviation: The CH-47 Chinook helicopter, which has ferried troops and supplies to and from battlefields since the Vietnam War.
Below, you can see what one Chinook pilot says are the most rewarding — and most demanding — parts of the job.
The Chinook has been the transport workhorse of Army aviation since it entered service in the early 1960s. It has been upgraded in the years since and remains the Army's primary heavy-duty troop and supply aircraft.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sean P. Casey)
"I'd have to say there’s nothing bad about being a Chinook pilot," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Waitman Kapaldo, a US Army aviation tactical-operations officer.
A US Army Reserve Chinook crew assist with preparations for Hurricane Florence at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Sept. 18, 2018.
(US Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez)
"The best thing is supporting the ground force — to see the guys infilling them into a battle position, giving the maneuver space for the commander and a ground force," he added in a NATO interview in Norway during Trident Juncture.
Kapaldo conducts maintenance on a Chinook at Rena Leir Airfield, Norway, Oct. 26, 2018.
(US Army photo by Charles Rosemond)
The main variant of the Army's Chinook, the CH-47, was originally fielded in Vietnam, but modifications in the decades since have increased the helicopter's lift and airworthiness in combat.
(US Army photo)
One of the most recent upgrades was the CH-47F standard, which involved installing new digital cockpit features and modifications to the airframe to reduce vibrations, which can harm the aircraft and its crew and passengers.
A South Carolina Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift cargo helicopter supports the South Carolina Forestry Commission to contain a remote fire near the top of Pinnacle Mountain in Pickens County, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2016.
(US Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)
"I have had people get on the edge of getting sick and getting disoriented," said Kapaldo, who told interviewers his longest flight in the Chinook lasted seven hours. "At that point it's important for my crew to let me know that's going on so I can fix what I'm doing and make everyone else feel a little better."
British and US soldiers are transported to a training mission in a US Army 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Chinook helicopter near Rena, Norway on Oct. 27, 2018.
(US Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael O'Brien)
While Kapaldo couldn't point to a bad part of piloting the Chinook, he was able to describe one kind of operation that was the most fun.
US soldiers conduct aft wheel pinnacle landing training in a CH-47F helicopter, June 28, 2016.
(US Army photo by Luis Viegas)
"The most enjoyable flight portion of flying the Chinook is doing a two-wheel pinnacle," he said.
Hovering with only the rear wheels touching the edge of a cliff, US Army pilots perform a maneuver called a pinnacle in a CH-47F Chinook helicopter during a training flight, Aug. 26, 2010.
(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Hoskins)
During pinnacle landings, "we land on top of the mountaintop and only put the ramp and the two wheels on the ground and have troops run off the back as the front of my helicopter is hanging off a cliffside," he said.
(Photo by Spc. Mary L. Gonzalez, CJTF-101 Public Affairs)
But the transport role also brings complications, Kapaldo said, specifically operations where the helicopter is loaded with cargo while it's already airborne.
Soldiers prepare attach a sling load to a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter at Forward Operating Base Altimur in Logar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2009.
(US Army photo)
"I would say the most difficult and dangerous maneuver that we do is doing sling-load operations," Kapaldo said.
Engineers connect a bridging section to a CH-47 Chinook as they move their mulitrole bridging company from a secure airfield to a water obstacle in northern Michigan, Oct. 13, 2018.
(Michigan National Guard photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)
Those type of operations are particularly worrisome, he said, because "we have soldiers hooking up a load from underneath the helicopter as I'm hovering several feet above their head, and to think that 50 pounds of force can come down on them if I don't do my job."
US soldiers sling load a Humvee to a Chinook at McGregor Range, New Mexico, Sept. 11, 2018.
(Fort Bliss Public Affairs photo)
Nevertheless, he said, the role he had in putting troops into battle and keep them supplied for the fight was an edifying one.
(Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman)
"It’s just a great feeling at the end of the day, knowing that I get to shape the battlefield from a Chinook."
A US Army Reserve CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew member scans the Registan Desert in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
(US Army photo)
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
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