I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1998 as a newly minted 2LT in Army Ordnance. I had two run-ins having to do with the NE Corridor (one involving a M-1 rifle and a Conrail police officer when he didn't realize he was not on RR property and was instead on Army land that could have ended very badly for him, I'll have to write that down someday), but one was pretty funny and I had no hand in any of it. I'm sure everyone involved has long since retired, anyway.
As a ROTC cadet the previous year, I was there for 3 weeks doing what was supposed to be OJT as an unofficial officer, but my assigned Captain was never around so it was a three-week vacation after advanced camp. At that time, I bummed rides off the Maryland National Guard unit at Edgewood Arsenal, riding on their UH-1 "Huey" choppers a few times.
Fast forward another year and I came back, and they remembered me (especially that I kept quiet and out of their way, things aviation types love in passengers) so I got up with them again a few times. As a LT, though, I was told I couldn't take a camera with me as I had as a cadet. I soon found out why. One Friday night after training was done around 1600 or so, I grabbed some chow at the Burger King in the PX parking lot and head south to Edgewood.
What was supposed to be a overland flight for training (I never knew where we went, the flights always went almost due west, I think we'd land for a few minutes near Frederick, at a small commercial airport), instead involved in zipping up and down the NE Corridor, up to just before the massive bridge at Havre De Grace, then south before anything near Baltimore, and back. We'd gone over the line at least 1500 feet the year before (I need to find the photos I took) and Metroliners could be watched zipping up and down the line back then.
Somewhere along the route this time, I can't be sure of the exact location, the crew decided to get low. Then lower. Then LOWER. I could see the pilots yucking it up and trying to look back to see if myself and a Chemical Corps Captain with me were bugging out. Seeing the smile on my face (knowing they wouldn't intentionally crash the bird, but not yet realizing how stupid Army rotor heads can get, which I found out the hard way later in my short military career), they weren't happy that they weren't freaking us out, I guess. With their external landing lights on, and being very low to the ground adjacent to the tracks and hovering less than a man's height right alongside the tracks but apparently with rotors far enough from the wires, we sat there for a moment, with the cockpit and landing lights facing toward the tracks, which were oriented left-right in front of is at a right angle, as we were on the outside of a curve.
I then saw the glow of headlights coming from around the curve to our right - fast, as all trains go through there - and as I couldn't tell the crew to keep an eye for the oncoming train without a headset, I realized I didn't have time to tell them anyway. Suddenly, an southbound Amtrak train with a AEM-7 zipped by very close to us. I can still see the two men in the cab hitting the deck, from their split-second sight from the curve, of a helicopter which must have appeared to them to be right on the tracks, and then the sudden fluttering of the helicopter as apparently the wind of the train disturbed the airflow of us hovering so close to the ground. I clearly recall seeing stuff lying on the floor of the Huey flying to one side of the interior, then back again. Once they got the bird steady, they turned 90 degrees (with the tracks now to our left), 'crabbed' the chopper further to the right, into the field and away from the tracks, then set her down with the engine still running at almost full power. The crew chief almost knocked me over getting past me to the door, flinging it open, getting out and looking all around. I looked over at the CPT and his face was solid white. With the crew chief satisfied that we hadn't hit or damaged anything, we were off, back to Edgewood.
Normally, the crew would talk with you after a flight, asking how you liked it (or more likely, hoping to hear how much you were impressed by them). They didn't say a word and each had a real deer in headlights look about them. I just chuckled and went to my SUV, eager to meet up with some LTs from my class who were going to the movie theater in White Marsh (I think to see "Armageddon," if memory serves). Then, I 'd be heading back to the BOQ for some shuteye as I was going to go to Gettysburg the next day to hit the antique stores in that area.
They never had us passengers (PAX, in military terms) sign in, so nobody called me later asking to give a statement, just in case someone got in trouble. I decided to stay away from a short while, and my weekends got busier after that and I never got back there for another ride.
I never got to ride in a Huey again.