As I mentioned in a previous post, my visit to Brewster to see the S-58/UH-34s was not one during which I was expecting to see anything flying. As I drove up, you can imagine my surprise to see a UH-34 in pristine Marine Corps markings hovering in front of me. It transitioned away as I pulled in to the airport so I was pretty annoyed thinking I was just too late to see it. However, I was wrong. They were doing pattern work and, while I don’t know how long that they had been flying already, they were not finished.
I parked the car and grabbed the camera as they came downwind and turned in to approach from a high position. The next couple of approaches seemed to be autorotation training. Each run around the pattern gave me a bit more time to get to a better position from which to get some shots. Initially, there was a building in the way but I was able to move to a spot with a clear view of the action without going anywhere I shouldn’t have been.
As I had managed to grab some shots, I figured I would switch to some video while I was at it. I didn’t get much video but enough to put together one composite circuit of the flying. That video is on YouTube as seen below. They then landed and taxied back to their ramp where, after a suitable cooling off period, they shut down. I was tempted to hang around to see if they flew again but I had a long day planned ahead of me and wanted to make sure I got everything in so I decided, after a short while, to continue on my way.
My road trip on a day off was not just a chance to have a day doing something different from the normal working from home during lockdown but was also a chance to check out something I had been meaning to do since moving to the Pacific Northwest. I was aware of helicopter operators that used the helicopters to dry fruit – cherries is what I had heard – and were keeping a bunch of vintage airframes in service to meet this need. What I had read about was S-58/UH-34s being used in Brewster.
This was my first stop on my road trip. It took a little over three hours to get there but there was very little traffic and the drive across the Cascades was a nice way to start the day. I was not anticipating much activity as I had assumed the season was over and so anything there would be parked up. I was not entirely right about that but more of that to come in another post.
The airport has a ton of airframes on site. Many of them look to be maintained in airworthy condition. A variety of colors suggest the sourcing of airframes from wherever it was practical to get them. Unlike my time working with Midwest Helicopters, none of these airframes appeared to be turbine powered. They still seemed to have the piston powerplants. The airworthy looking helicopters were parked in an orderly fashion around the site. There were also some spare airframes. I don’t know whether these have been robbed for parts, are awaiting restoration or have had issues but they are stored out in the open. There also appeared to be some other components stored outside. I suspect this means they need work and maybe the serviceable parts are under cover.
I would certainly like to learn more about the operation. The signage was not encouraging visitors but I did get a wave from someone driving out of the place. I decided not to just wander up based on the notices around but it would be good to get back out there some time and learn more about their operations, history and the sources of the helicopters. It would be an interesting article to put together.