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Bell Huey UH1H Tail Number: 72-21509 G-UH1H


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Latest News >Goodwood Revival - Sep 2009

Star Arrival at Revival  (By Crewmaster Simon Johnson)

How do you make an entrance to an event for a special guest when he is a former NASA astronaut who has walked on the moon?  You fly him in as a crew member of a Huey helicopter of course.  That is exactly what happened at the Goodwood Revival held in September, 2009.
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The Revival weekend is a throwback to 1966, the last year the famous circuit saw racing after 18 years.  All the cars and aircraft are of the correct era. The paying public also get into the spirit of the event and wear period clothes from the three decades that racing took place.

For the petrol head this is a must see event.  Whatever your dream machine is if it's from the 40's, 50's and 60's then the chances are it will be at Goodwood.  Walking round the Paddock and other display areas you can get up close to cars worth millions.  It is just mind blowing. Even the military vehicles get a look in…..jeeps are used as a VIP taxi service.  Much to our delight we had to call upon their services on the Sunday of the event but more of that later.  If two wheels are your thing then you are well catered for with some rare machines on show, not just within the circuit but out in the car parks as well.  

If all things land based isn't enough then there are the classic aircraft.  Fancy a four ship formation display comprising of two Spitfires and two P51 Mustangs then there it is above the circuit.  Or how about a Vickers Vimy replica along with Dragon Rapides taking to the sky.  On the ground there were the likes of a C47 Dakota, Messerschmitt 108, Piper cubs and Tiger Moth to name a few in the static enclosure.  Just outside the fence of the enclosure stood Huey 509.

Becky had been contacted by the organisers of the event only about five weeks before; the lateness of the enquiry due to the confirmation of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin as the VIP guest for the event and judge of the classic aircraft on display.  They must have had a brainstorming session and decided that an iconic American flying machine would be best to show off their special guest and that icon would be none other than a Huey.  Being totally biased, no neutrality here, they couldn't have made a better choice and when you think of a Huey in the UK it has to be 509.

After a few phone calls it was agreed that 509 would be able to take on the task.  The event is over three days so 'Chuck' the motor home was dispatched on the Thursday morning.  That afternoon 509 was flown south by Keith with Nina and Bradley onboard.  Friday saw Nina and Bradley holding the fort and organising getting 509 towed up to the fence so those visiting could see her up close.  The Huey had a constant stream of visitors eager to get a closer look and take some photographs.  Phil and Neil arrived in the afternoon after driving down in the Huey Smart Car (or Thunderbird 6 as it has been called!). After a long day for all concerned it was early to bed for an early rise.

Saturday was on the grey side but did get progressively warmer as the day went on.  The weather didn't put the crowds off though; Friday was busy but Saturday was something else.  All day everyone was talking to visitors in groups.  All the time there were aircraft taking off and landing as were helicopters and of course classic racing cars roaring around the track.

The mini was celebrating its 50th birthday and in on the act was Mr Bean driving his Green and Black mini from the comfort of his armchair on the roof!!  It was a shame that I was unable to talk to Rowan Atkinson as I was at school with him ‘**’years ago!  

Around Saturday lunchtime we were in for a surprise as Nick Mason, Pink Floyd's drummer, came across to have a closer look at 509.  Phil and Neil gave him a guided tour and sat him in the front right hand seat.  There were numerous other faces we recognised throughout the day but we were struggling to put names to them.  Mid afternoon saw 60,000 pairs of eyes looking skyward as XH558 the only flying Vulcan bomber came in for its display.  A little on the tame side but extremely graceful… the sound on the other hand was earth shattering.



Saturday evening Bradley swopped his Vietnam two piece flying suit for a full WW2 RAF uniform and Irvin flying jacket to get his picture taken with the Spitfires parked up around the corner from us.  Unfortunately for him one machine had been put to bed and the other was about to depart for another display but we got some photographs.  As luck would have it the aircraft that Bradley wanted his photo taken with was being flown by an old friend of Neil's so on Sunday Neil and Bradley were to return.


P1020856.JPGSaturday night we made our own entertainment but again early to bed as it was an even earlier start on Sunday.  For two days 509 had sat quietly in the wings but today was going to be her day as she was about to take centre stage.  We were all by the Huey early, after a slight debacle with those on duty at the gates.  Phil and Neil did the pre-flight checks and got themselves ready to fly.  Whilst they were doing that Nina, Bradley and I sorted out the M60's and secured them for the flight.  Everything and anything that wasn't needed was removed and locked away by the control tower.  By the time we were ready to lift to fly over to Goodwood House quite a crowd had gathered to see 509 depart.  Many had come back especially as they had been somewhat frustrated at 509 not flying on the previous days.  A little after 8.30 am Neil pulled pitch and headed to the House.  No sooner had we taken off we were ready to land. Shortly after securing the rotors Nina and Bradley appeared in an M38A1 jeep (driven by John its owner) which they got at the VIP 'taxi' rank by the entrance to the track.

As 509 sat on the grass outside Goodwood House she was in good company with a gaggle of Masserati's parked on the gravel drive along with a Rolls Royce or two.  A mini-cam was set up inside 509 and the cameraman who was to film Buzz's flight in the Huey was given his safety brief and advice about filming inside the helicopter.  After about an hour we heard a helicopter approaching.  It popped into view over the top of the trees and set down on the grass about a hundred yards away.  Out jumped Buzz Aldrin and his wife to be ushered into the House.  Just after 10.30 am Buzz, if I can call him that, re-appeared on the steps of the House and was led over to Huey 509 and crew.  

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Neil came into his own and took the lead welcoming Buzz and his wife and introducing them to the Team assembled by the Huey.  Neil then gave him a tour of the machine telling him about its history. Soon it was time to go so Buzz was sat in the cabin of the Huey and hooked up the comms with a head set.


As Neil and Phil climbed in the front Bradley untied the Rotors and pulled them round to the 3 o'clock position.  Once they were released he moved in close to the Huey for the start up.  As the turbine and the massive rotors burst into life he did the final checks around the machine. Happy all was good both he and I retired to a safe distance.  Whilst 509 was getting into her stride so was a Robinson which was going to film the air to air shots for a TV programme to be aired a couple of weeks later.  The Robinson lifted first followed by Neil who repositioned the Huey away from the House to allow the Robinson to get some close ups of the Huey hovering. At a 10.45 am Neil brought the Huey to a high hover to clear the tree tops before nosing her over to head for the circuit.  Those left on the ground jumped into the jeeps.  A second machine had turned up and waited to watch the 509 take off.

In no time at all we were parked up by the side of the circuit to watch Neil's approach and landing at Woodcote Corner to deliver Buzz.  Safely on the ground, Phil jumped out of the front seat and helped Buzz out of the back to escort him to Lord March and the waiting Thunderbird that was to drive him round the track.  VIP delivered, Phil jumped back in and Neil hover-taxied 509 back to her position by the static display.  Once again she was towed to the crowd line where she stayed until late afternoon.  There was already a large crowd at the fence to watch her land and the numbers didn't diminish that much for the rest of the day. Mission Accomplished!

On our return Keith Thomas (Huey Pilot) and his wife Linda had arrived and soon we got a call to say that Rob Tierney (Huey Pilot) and his wife Gwyn were not far off either.  So it was to be almost a full Huey Crew at the fence.

Early afternoon threw up a pleasant surprise. Keith was taking to a gentleman called Ron Anderson who wasn't from around these parts and was dressed in Goodwood style as a 'rag and bone man'.  Goodwood Se 09 052.jpgAs Keith continued to talk to him about 509 it became obvious that Ron knew rather a lot about Hueys.  Keith asked him how he knew so much to which he rolled up his sleeve to reveal the Air Cavalry Shield tattooed on his upper arm.  This he explained had been done using bamboo needles 'in country' in Vietnam during one of his three tours between 1970 to 1973; part of which he was a door gunner on Hueys!

On hearing this I guided him out onto our side of the fence where we gave him an Air Cav badged shirt and helmet and sat him in the door gunners well.  From there he talked of his time in Vietnam to the now spell bound crowd that had gathered by the fence.  He was with us for some considerable time which just flew by.  It is great to see a veteran’s eyes light up when they see something they thought they would not see again.  He talked about the M60 but when he spoke of the M16 he was handed one and he started to show just how at ease he was with the rifle even though he hadn't held one for a good few years.  This was one of those rare moments that brings home how important it is to acknowledge veterans of all conflicts.  What an amazing character and our thanks to Ron for bringing his history to our display.
I had the chance to talk to a Chinook pilot who was heading out to Afghanistan and thanked him for the work they do. There might be disagreements over whether we should be fighting and where but we must respect our Armed Forces Personnel as they are doing what our politicians are asking them to do; they are doing their job.  It turned out the Pilot was a good friend of Major Mark Hammond, a Royal Marine Aviator, who has just had his book 'Immediate Response' published.  The book is about the work he and other pilots flying Chinook and Apache helicopters do in bringing the wounded soldiers out of the battle zones in Afghanistan for medical treatment.  It is well worth the read to get an insight into what life and flying is like during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Sunday afternoon and once again we prepared 509 to fly.  This time it was to get Neil in the air with 509 and off to Gloucester where he was heading for a day’s Air Ambulance training.  He would then fly 509 back up north to home on the Tuesday.  Fully fuelled and everything stowed inside securely he took off at 6 o'clock.  The rest of us headed off to strike camp to pack everything back into the motorhome.  The Huey Smart Car was attached with its 'A' bar to the tow hitch and we were ready for the long drive home.

The Goodwood Revival was a whole new experience for us. The welcome we were given and the support by the organisers was second to none.  Hopefully we will be invited to attend another Revival in the future.