This page contains the US Army Field Manual on Pathfinder Operations. FM In daylight operations, pathfinders are not inserted into an LZ before the initial assault echelon unless the LZ requires extensive improvement or. HEADQUARTERS. FIELD MANUAL. DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. No. (FM ). PATHFINDER OPERATIONS. OCTOBER

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Radio Communications The severity of the vertical currents encountered updrafts or downdrafts may be more critical than landing into the wind and may require a downwind approach. Airfields for fixed-wing aircraft and multiple helicopter LZs in mountainous regions are limited. These intervals depend on the number of helicopters in each flight, the configuration and conditions of the landing site, and the nature of the cargo to be loaded or unloaded. Depending on the angle of slope and available torque, a normal slope landing maybe made.

The enemy can intercept, analyze, determine the direction of, and exploit electromagnetic energy radiating from any signal equipment such as radios, radar, and more. To prevent this hazardous situation, pathfinders mark LZs with multiple lights and mark landing areas with two or more widely separated lights. During external load operations, aviators should key the FM radio immediately before load pickup to discharge the aircraft’s static electrical charge.

FM Table of Contents

Voice ConUol The sameness of the terrain makes it easier for a pilot to become less attentive to his surroundings, and it may be necessary to mark and man release points. Approach is over lowest obstacles and into the wind it possible. When the pathfindr rises or falls to just above the horizon, avoid using an approach path that faces directly into it.

Both the minimum distance between aircraft and the size of the landing point increase in desert operations: The shorter the sling, the less altitude required to clear obstacles.

When not performing duties for supported units, pathfinders with equipment stay near and in communication with the supported ground unit command post.

Pathfinder Operations FM 57 38

This clevis NSN has a rated capacity of 12, pounds pendant with a 7,pound sling-to-lifting provision point of attachment. The commander employs this technique when weather or time and distance considerations preclude mission completion in other flight modes.


He continues a vertical ascent until the load is off the ground and a hover-power check is completed.

Emergency night lighting by vehicle headlights. Neither pathfinder nor aviation unit commanders can pathfider to an alternate LZ s unless the supported ground unit commander has delegated that authority to them. The electronic homing heacon is then installed, if requested hy the aviation unit commander, since it affords long-range guidance. When flight altitude is restricted by the air defense threat to altitudes below those established by AR for standard instrument flightthen a minimum clearance of 1, feet over mountainous terrain and feet over flat terrain is possible.

In most combat situations, the need for security keeps pathfinders from using red lights to mark treetops on the departure end of a landing zone. If a priority for installing these aids is required due to limited personnel or other factors, then the following priority is used.

UH-1H Iroquois and its cargo hook.

(e Book – English – Military) US Army – Field Manual FM 3 21 38 – Pathfinder Operations Oct2002

These skills give them some flexibility in planning parachute delivery. In a right traffic pattern, the aircraft makes all right turns. Other considerations include vertical air currents, escape routes, terrain contour and obstacles, and the position of the sun.

Large utility and cargo helicopters can also land on terrain with a slope ranging from 0 degrees to 7 degrees. Employing a signalman on the ground gives the pilot a visual reference to adjust his controls.

However, they must still clear and mark the area just as they would if the helicopter were going to land. Whiteout conditions place extra demands on the landing site party. Using radio homing signals for directional guidance presents a dubious option. These include prowords that signal a switch to an alternate radio frequency, transmission authentication procedures, brevity codes, and required reports, when he suspects enemy interference. Pathfinders have a limited capability to secure a landing site.

When expressing time, he uses the word TIME followed by the number. The distance between aireraft and landing point size are increased in desert operations meters between aircraft, meter-diameter landing points. Do not drop personnel or equipment. Vertical Air Currents Even moderate wind 11 to 20 knots can produce significant turbulence over mountain ridges. Touchdown points in daytime are marked so the pilot has references to clear and safe landing areas.


While aircraft approach and land, he makes pathfinser that signalmen remain in safe areas. When they can, helicopters should land in the same formation in which they are flying. Coordinating with ground and aviation unit commanders and understanding their SOPs ensure pathfinders accurately and efficiently deliver equipment, personnel, and ammunition. When time allows, the pathfinders can increase infiltration security by combining overland infiltration with parachute or airlanded infiltration.

Mountainous regions offer few, if any airfields for fixed-wing aircraft, and few LZs suitable for multiple helicopters. Some situations require pathfinders to set up an internal net to communicate with other pathfinder elements. In most operations, three to six soldiers comprise pathfindee average-sized pathfinder element supporting a DZ or an LZ or continuously supporting an infantry battalion.

The need for positive ATC increases when the weather deteriorates, when the number of aircraft increases, or when changes in the situation or plans require it. It may consist of a single pathfinded operating the GTA radio for a limited period at a small site, or it may be staffed as follows: While frequent clear days offer unequaled visibility and flight conditions, a sandstorm can quickly halt all operations.

Pathfinders and pilots find distances and altitudes hard to judge in the desert. The departing aircraft 1 crosses the opposite end of the runway before the arriving aircraft 2 crosses the approach end 57-83 its final glide path C, Figurepage A pilot’s depth perception is impaired in snow-covered areas. He looks for a location that will take ooperations of long- range electronic and visual navigation aids.