Western Trips

Western Trips

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

UH-1 / California Air Museum

When traveling in Sonoma County California, the Pacific Coast Air Museum , PCAM, is an excellent venue for a trip back into history. The museum located at the Charles Schulz Sonoma County Airport just a few miles northwest of Santa Rosa California is a treasure. In addition to having on display the authentic First Responder F-15 military jet that was airborne over New York City on September 11, 2001, there is a marvelous collection of military aircraft of all types.

The UH-1 Helicopter

pacific coast air museum
Pacific Coast Air Museum
One interesting exhibit is the UH-1 "Huey" helicopter. This aircraft was the first turbined powered helicopter used by the U.S. military and the Vietnam War was the first time the craft was used in combat situations. Some seven-thousand of these aircraft served during the Vietnam War. During that period about 3,300 were destroyed. They were manufactured by Bell Helicopter.

The UH-1H Huey on display at the Pacific Coast Air Museum was restored and updated and displays markings of the 188th Assault Helicopter Company referred to as the "Black Widows". This particular helicopter saw combat action in Vietnam flown by "Black Widow" air crews. When the Pacific Coast Air Museum acquired this helicopter it was being used by the California National Guard. The restoration was performed by Vietnam Vets from the Black Widow unit. Other markings seen on this aircraft include the bulls-eye of the 269th Combat Aviation Battalion, white markings belonging to the 2nd Platoon and the 2nd Platoon's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" door marking.

uh-1 helicopter
UH-1H Huey at PCAM
Specs for the UH-1H include five separate fuel tanks. The fuel tanks did not have armor but were self-sealing. The armor was available for the pilots seats. Cabin capacity was generally two seats for the pilots and up to thirteen for the troops.

The cabin area could also be utilized for six stretchers instead of the full compliment of soldiers. Seats were constructed of aluminum tubing with canvas. The cockpit area had dual controls which were operated hydraulically.

The UH-1H Huey Iroquois, thought by many to be the most famous helicopter in the world, as shown here has a Lycoming T-53L 1,400 HP engine with a top speed of 138 MPH and a ceiling of 13,600 feet. The range is 360 miles. First flights were made in 1956 with the U.S. Army adopting the helicopter in 1958.The term "Huey" was added as a nickname.

During the many years of the war, the Huey was modified and updated. The most significant change was a longer fuselage. The Bell 204 models were replaced with the longer 205's.

uh-1 huey helicopter
UH-1H Huey Helicopter markings
The UH-1's lasted until they were replaced as a first line helicopter by the UH-60 Black Hawk. There are still a few hundred that the army has kept in service.

To give you some perspective between the Huey and the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, the Black Hawk has twin turbo-shaft engines delivering a top speed of about 200 to 220 MPH with a combat radius of about 360 miles and a ferrying range of 1,380 miles. The main rotor is four bladed and the craft has a single tail wheel. Just as was the case with the Hueys, the Black Hawk has several modified and upgraded models flying. It's weapons include several different caliber machine guns including anti-tank missile launchers. The Black Hawk helicopter first saw combat in 1983 in Grenada.

During the Vietnam War, the Huey was used for a vast array of purposes. This included ferrying troops into battle, medical evacuation, ground assault, observation, electronic warfare and search and rescue.

You will also be interested in our Western Trips article and photos of the F-15 First Responder jet and the Grumman S2-A Tracker on display at the Pacific Coast Air Museum. Also, our article and photos of the Beech 18 at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum.

A visit to the Pacific Coast Air Museum is a great addition to a Sonoma Wine Country vacation or weekend visit. The museum, founded in 1989, this non-profit organization has done an excellent job of restoring vintage military aircraft and has a wide photo and artifact collection as well. It's well worth adding to your Sonoma County California trip planner. The museum is located at 2230 Becker Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA at the Charles Schulz Sonoma County Airport.

(Photos from author's private collection)

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