LIMERICK >> There’s nothing like the feeling of returning home.
No one knows that quite like Chad Carvalho, 34, originally from Pottstown. Carvalho is currently on active duty in the Army, working as a maintenance test pilot for Black Hawk helicopters, which is why when he flew into Limerick on Wednesday, he was met by a crowd of family members and friends eager to see him for the first time in quite a while.
“Chad is coming in in one of two Black Hawks,” explained Carvalho’s sister-in-law Beth Huyett. “ We’re not lucky enough to visit him at all the places he’s been deployed. New York was probably the last place I was able to visit them and that was years ago.”
Carvalho, who has been a pilot in the Army for about seven years, was tasked with flying one of two Black Hawks from New Jersey to Colorado with some stops for fueling and maintenance along the way. One of those stops included Heritage Field Airport where Carvalho started his career in flying.
Awaiting Carvalho’s arrival were numerous family members including his mother, Donna Knapper, another of his sisters-in-law, Julie Shankle, aunts and uncles and numerous nieces and nephews. The family, as well as Carvalho’s previous boss, Limerick Airport Manager Chris Jordan, gathered at Limerick airport as they anticipated his arrival.
“Chad used to work for me many years ago before he worked in the service. He went into the service and after a while he wanted to become a helicopter pilot. He came back and told us that and we were like, ‘You’re crazy.’ He went and he actually did it so I’m extremely proud of him. He’s really done good in life,” said Jordan.
After more than an hour of waiting for the helicopters to come in, propellers could be heard in the distance and his family began looking toward the sky and waving their American flags.
After stepping out of the helicopter, Carvalho was greeted first by Jordan and was then given a running welcome from all of his nieces and nephews.
“It feels good to be home. I grew up learning to fly here back in 2000. I worked here fueling airplanes, trying to get my license so it’s nice to come back and show people how far I’ve come in my career,” said Carvalho. “It’s pretty exciting. I didn’t realize so many people would be here.”
Carvalho could only remain in the area for a short time as the helicopters refueled. He then had to continue flying the Black Hawk back to Colorado. After a joyful reunion with his family, Carvalho was treated to a plentiful meal organized by Jordan and Carvalho’s family.
But no trip home would be complete without a few souvenirs, which is why Carvalho asked for some area delicacies before he had to leave once more.
“We just wanted some local favorites,” he laughed. “The sandwiches here, the pizza here is different. Everything is different in Pennsylvania. When you leave home you forget the things you miss.”
Carvalho joined the Army in 2004 and has completed three tours of duty including one in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. A graduate of Pottstown High School, Carvalho currently lives in Colorado with his wife and three children. Much of his family lives in Berks County with the exception of his mother who still lives in Pottstown.