I only took to the skies in a helicopter for the first time in the summer of 2005 when Huey 509 first arrived in the UK, it really doesn’t get any better, what an inauguration.
I have always had an interest in military aviation but never took up flying. The development and use of the weapons of war, particularly the vehicles and aircraft have always fascinated me and at the top of the list the Willys Jeep of WW2 (there are photos of my 1942 Willys MB here on the website) and of course the veritable Huey. Both icons of their time and probably, along with the Coke bottle and VW Beetle, instantly recognised the world over.
I joined the team after filming a report for the BBC programme North West Tonight when Phil finally got to bring 509 to its new home in Lancashire. Since then I've been involved with filming of the Huey and the Loach since its arrival a few years ago. There are a selection of our own ‘home’ produced videos on this site and on YouTube, just type in 'Huey 509'.
Huey 509 and Loach 011 served a very serious purposes in Vietnam and both being here in the UK helps preserve the memory of those soldiers who served, fought and died in Vietnam. As with all military vehicles you have to remember they were designed for a particular purpose and we cannot afford to lose sight of that.
As crew master I give all the pilots that fly the Huey and the Loach the help and support they need to check and operate the aircraft both on the ground and in the air. Whilst taking on other aspects of the operation it means they can concentrate on the job of flying. It's a pleasure going to the various shows around the UK and meeting and talking to everyone who comes to see us, but we understand that the helicopters are the attraction. It never ceases to amaze me just what an appeal the helicopters have, the Huey in particular and just what it means to so many.
Both aircraft have attracted attention from Vietnam veterans that flew in these two machines and strong ties have been created particularly with those who served in the 129th Assault Helicopter Company that Huey 509 was part of. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be involved which such an operation that honours the veterans, many of whom I am proud to call my friends.