How to get a retired Vietnam veteran back up in a Huey UH-1?
May 31, 2007 11:30 AM   Subscribe

How to get a retired Vietnam veteran back up in a Huey UH-1?

My father flew helicopters in Vietnam- he was an army captain. He has not, to my knowledge, maintained any sort of military contacts since his return and completion of service decades ago.

The only times my father even mentions his military/ war experiences is in the context of his deep appreciation of piloting these helicopters. I would love to be able to give him the gift of flying in one again (I would guess he is probably way too rusty to actually pilot- and is surely unlicensed to do so.)

Any thoughts on how I could pursue this? I imagine some of these hueys are still running/ in use somewhere?

I have no military contacts and very little military knowledge.
posted by mistsandrain to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Google "air show Huey rides". Most major (and not so major) cities have air shows throughout the year, especially in the summer. Going on a paid ride in a uh1 is a fairly common offering at these shows, there's groups (both private and affliated with the us gov) that go from show to show with their equipment. Here's a schedule.
posted by jamaro at 11:50 AM on May 31, 2007

My dad sounds like he has a lot in common with yours. He's a retired Army Captain who doesn't talk about the war except for the Hueys and bemoaning that he didn't go into commercial aviation when he got out of the military.

He recently joined the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (warning: helicopter sounds). They have a magazine and organize reunions and gatherings. My dad is pretty enthusiastic about them, so it may be a good outlet for your father if he doesn't already know about them. Because of the VHPA sticker on his car he was approached by a coworker who flew Hueys for the South Vietnamese Army and now they're best buddies. I'll call him tonight and post again if he has any ideas for getting your father back into a Huey.

Also, I think Bell made a civilian variant of the UH-1. It might be easier to find a charter flight operator or flight school with one of those than a real military model.
posted by peeedro at 12:07 PM on May 31, 2007

THANKS- these are some great leads....
posted by mistsandrain at 12:26 PM on May 31, 2007

A UH-1 is not terribly dissimilar from a garden-variety Bell Jet Ranger, in terms of its avionics. You see Rangers everywhere. Sounds like it wouldn't be difficult for him to become checked out with it, and then the helicopter rentals and schools would be good leads for other opportunities.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:22 PM on May 31, 2007

Not directly an answer to your question, but your father may enjoy this movie In the Shadow of the Blade.
posted by green herring at 2:18 PM on May 31, 2007

This is also not a direct answer to your question, but are there any military bases near you or your father? I know you said he hasn't maintained any military contacts and that you don't have any yourself, but I would still start by calling up the nearest base and asking them this very question.

The worst they can say is no. And if you work the "Vietnam vet with a deep appreciation for these machines" angle I think they'd be receptive at the least, and could help point you in the right direction.

You can contact U.S. Army Public Affairs at 703.692.2000. Website here. I'd suggest starting with the army, but don't rule out Navy, Marines, etc.
posted by fuzzbean at 3:25 PM on May 31, 2007

The Air Force flies the UH-1N according to this factsheet. Contact the Air Force Space Command public affairs office, listed at the bottom of the factsheet, to see if they can arrange an orientation ride at one of their bases.

The Marines continue to fly the UH-1N and is planning to convert to the UH-1Y. Here is their Community Relations Branch website. Contact them to see if they can arrange an orientation ride at one of their bases.

The Army National Guard is currently modernizing their aging UH-1 fleet with the UH-60. I can't find any unit that still flies the UH-1.
posted by plokent at 3:47 PM on May 31, 2007

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