US Army: 12th Aviation Battalion
Known as the Gold Tops (in contrast to the HMX-1 White Tops), the unit provides VIP transportation for the Department of Defense.
Trackable on Flightradar24 App?
- Unknown, but likely no.
Based out of Fort Belvoir, this unit play a number of other roles, but one of them is also VIP evacuation in the case of emergency. While the HMX-1 squadron would ensure the evacuation of the President and his immediate advisors, it is this squadron that would spirit away other high ranking lawmakers and government leadership.
These helicopters are not as common in the skies over DC, but are still a somewhat regular sight flying over the rivers and to and from the Pentagon.
In 2014, the unit held an unusual exercise where 24 helicopters flew over DC. I didn’t see it at the time, which was for the best best, because I for one would have 100% read that as ‘Ummm… something’s going on and we’ve got 25 minutes’. The video (linked below) is well worth a watch.
- Foxtrot Alpha - These Elite Military Helicopter Units Fly Washington’s Power Players
- Rotar and Wing Interational - Army 12th: Flying the Brass
- GlobalSecurity.com - 12th Aviation Battalion
- Army.mil - The Army Aviation Brigade: 12th Aviation Battalion
- Video and Press Release about the 2014 Exercise.