As you enter the Pioneer Air Museum, immediately to your left, you’re almost nose to nose with a Huey! The UH-1, aka “Huey” is a military helicopter with a single turbo shaft engine and two-bladed main and tail rotors. Bell Helicopter manufacturer developed the UH-1, aka “Huey”, in 1952 as a medical evacuation and utility helicopter. It was ordered into mass production in 1960 for the U.S. Military. More than 16,000 helicopters have been produced worldwide.
Huey’s were put into service during the Vietnam War for general support, air assault, cargo transportation, aero medical evacuation, search and rescue, electronic warfare, and general attack missions. The UH-1 body was upgraded to this model, designated the UH-1H, and manufactured in 1966. The individual companies would have modified the helicopters for specific purposes, for example the escort helicopters were outfitted with rocket launchers, grenade launchers, and machine guns, allowing them to take troops deep into enemy territory.
The UH-1H at the Museum saw combat in South Vietnam. It was taken down three times during combat. During one of its last missions, a support mission to the main base in 1969, it took a hit from a rocket propelled grenade while landing, damaging the communication system, electric system, and it’s structure. After the war, the helicopter was sent to the overhaul facility in Texas and transferred to various Alaskan Army posts, before finally coming to Fort Wainwright. It was retired in 1993 and subsequently loaned to the Pioneer Air Museum. The Army still maintains the craft and in the spring of 2015, Delta Co. I-52 Aviation Regiment of Fort Wainwright repaired the “chin bubble” (the plexiglass beneath the pilots seat).
A visitor of the museum recognized the ID number on the tail of the craft, #66-00934 and identified it as the helicopter he few during the Vietnam war. Thomas Ackerman was the crew-chief and gunman of this Huey. Photos of him and crew members were kindly sent to the museum by his daughter and breathe new life into the history of this aircraft.