Skip to comments.CA: Restored helicopters to fly air-show missions - UH-1B Iriquois, "Huey" - March Field AirFest
Posted on 04/29/2006 7:15:50 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
The crew at Wings and Rotors Air Museum in Murrieta think it's high time Vietnam veterans get their due.
Museum volunteers and military veterans have restored two Vietnam War-vintage helicopters and are working to return an F-4 Phantom jet to the skies. Those helicopters will fly and be on display today and Sunday at the March Field Airfest at March Air Reserve Base.
"The Vietnam era is not well-represented at air shows," said Shayne Meder, an Air Force veteran, who paints and restores aircraft and works at Wings and Rotors. "People see World War II airplanes and modern airplanes. But our Vietnam veterans are just as much heroes as are Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. It's time to honor their service."
A Barksdale Air Force Base B-52 bomber -- another workhorse that served during the Vietnam War -- also arrived at March on Friday from Louisiana.
The highlight of the show is the performance of the famed Thunderbirds precision flying team. Organizers expect up to 300,000 visitors this weekend.
Several volunteers at the Wings and Rotors museum served in Vietnam and flew aboard helicopters like the ones they helped restore. The museum's OH-58A Kiowa scout helicopter sought out the enemy in Vietnam, flying as a forward observation post that often invited enemy fire. And the UH-1B Iroquois, better known as the "Huey," dropped off and picked up troops; evacuated wounded soldiers; delivered ammunition, supplies and mail; and flew missions as an armed gunship. Updated variations of both helicopters serve in Iraq today.
Hemet resident Frank Tresenrider, 57, flew more than 100 missions on a Huey during 1968 and '69, serving as a door gunner and crew chief.
More than 3,000 Hueys went down during the Vietnam War, killing more than 2,700 pilots, crew members and troops. Hueys flew more than 7 million hours in Vietnam, making it one of the most combat-tested aircraft of all time.
Tresenrider said he flew out of Da Nang, Phu Bai and Hue, inserting Special Forces troops, conducting long-range reconnaissance patrols and delivering food and supplies throughout the region. He flew with the vaunted 101st Airborne Division, the legendary "Screaming Eagles." His outfit was known as The Kingsmen.
Missions took off day and night, clear weather and mist, but fog grounded the choppers, Tresenrider recounted. He said working to restore helicopters helps exorcise the demons of war.
"It's therapy," he said. "Guys see these helicopters, and they start talking about their experiences, some for the first time."
Pat Rodgers helps restore aircraft at the Murrieta museum, which is located at the French Valley Airport and is open to the public by appointment. When the museum took possession of the Kiowa reconnaissance helicopter, the aircraft had no rotors, engine, radios, instruments and avionics. Restoration took about nine months.
Rodgers, 53, who lives in Moreno Valley, said restoring vintage aircraft brings "living history" to the public.
"This is a dream job," he said.
Frank Bellino / The Press-Enterprise Helicopters at Wings and Rotors Air Museum are restored by a crew that includes, from left, Pat Rodgers, Frank Tresenrider and Shayne Meder. Two Vietnam War-vintage helicopters were restored by the museum and an F-4 Phantom jet is being worked on.
Wings and Rotors Air Museum located at beautiful
French Valley Airport in Murrieta California.
"Wings of yesterday, flying today."
whup whup whup whup whup whup whup whup whup
That they did.. here's a site with some shots..
USS Midway / San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum
Hey, I just got back a couple of hours ago from the air fest at March.
Took my wife and two boys. We had an great time.
Thunderbirds looked like they cut a lot of their show due to visibility issues. (Lots of haze and smog today)
I fly out of French Valley, and these folks deserve some press for what they do.