Just up the road from Brewster Airport is another collection of vintage helicopters. Monse has some even older airframes. I was a little disappointed at first because I thought that they were going to be R-5s but, when I got there, I came across a bunch of immaculate S-55s. There may have been an R-5 in there too because I could see the tail of something different. Most of what I could see was S-55s, though.
Each of them looked in fantastic condition. They all had individual paint schemes that looked flawless so there was little to be disappointed about. I could shoot what I could see from the road outside the entrance to the driveway. Again the signage did not encourage visitors so I decided against walking up the driveway to see whether they would let me shoot the collection up close. It certainly would be good to visit in more detail though.
The UH-34 wasn’t the only helicopter flying at Brewster. As I was driving towards the exit, I heard the sound of a turbine whining. I pulled over to the side of the road and saw that the Life Flight helicopter was running up. I headed to a piece of higher ground that overlooked their space. The Agusta 119 Koala was sitting on a trailer and warming up. It then pulled up in to a hover and transitioned to the grass. A moment later, back to the hover and back to the trailer. This was repeated a couple of times. It didn’t seem like they were actually going flying unfortunately. As they ran down the RPMs, I figured it was time to move on again.
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.
I put together a selection of shots from the RIAT show of 2006 in this post. It was another four years before I was back for my next visit. This time I made a visit to the Park and View East rather than the west. This was the end at which everything was landing, and it also provided a good view of some of the arrivals as they taxied to the ramp.
The weather started out okay, but it got steadily worse resulting ion a torrential downpour. Some movements were in such low light that it was almost like shooting at night. The stormy weather passed and then the flying could resume. Given the variety of things that were showing up, I will focus this post on the arrival traffic, and we can add some of the displays in a different post.
Plenty of helicopters as well as the fast jets. I had not shot at this location before and I was not prepared for how crowded it could be and the way you needed to be at the front. That limited some of my shots unfortunately. Also, there was a lot of heat haze in the air so some of the nicer angles on the approach produced shots that are not sharp enough. Still, a fun day out. Drying out took a while that night though!
Anyone that has vacationed in the Hawaiian Islands knows that there are loads of helicopters around. The sightseeing flight operations are extensive and there are a variety of types that are used. The Astar was a big feature of these flights but the EC130 was developed to provide something best suited to these flights and it is now very widespread. There are other types in use too. I used a Robinson R44 for one of my flights for example.
There are the occasional MD500s around too which is what you expect to see if you ever watched the original Magnum PI TV series. The helicopter area at Lihue was a busy place to be with a steady stream of operators moving from the different pads. I wasn’t on vacation to spend time watching helicopters but of course I managed to slip a little time in with them!
Well over 10 years ago, I was invited by a rail vehicle manufacturer to an industry event that they were holding to promote one of their vehicles. It was held at the TTCI test facility outside Pueblo in Colorado. Pueblo also has an aviation museum so it was inconceivable that I would go all that way and not check it out while I was there.
Most of the exhibits are outside in some pretty harsh sun so they are rather sun-bleached. There is an interesting mix of old types on display while a few are indoors and look in better condition. Helicopters and vintage fighters are always going to be good for me so hopefully there is something in here you like.
Our journey home from Tofino involved a ferry crossing from Nanaimo. We left plenty of time to get across the island as a result of some construction activity and, of course, we made it across easily. We were to early to check in for the ferry so waited in Nanaimo for a while. As we sat in the car, I saw an S-76 from HeliJet coming in to land. I had forgotten that HeliJet flew to Nanaimo as well as Victoria. Missing the arrival was annoying as they aren’t too frequent and there wouldn’t be another until after we had gone to the ferry.
However, departure on the return leg was not for a while so we headed around to the heliport. I assume it is a recent construction because it is a very modern looking building. The S-76 was parked on the pad right by the parking lot and with only a low fence unlike Victoria. It was a bit rainy so I stayed in the car until they loaded up. After start up and letting everything stabilize, they pulled up and headed out over the water en route to Vancouver. This might be a good spot on a sunny day!
The Lynx was a favorite helicopter of mine in my teens. It was in service with both the Royal Navy and the British Army in substantial numbers. We used to see them a lot as they often flew past our home on the seafront in Cowes moving between the Navy bases at Portland and Portsmouth. The Lynx has gone from UK service, replaced by the Wildcat. I hadn’t seen any Wildcats before RIAT so was glad to see them from both the Army and the Navy (not that they look that different unliked their predecessors). Old style Lynxes were still represented though. The German Navy had an example visiting. They are not going to be around for much longer, though. They will be replaced early in the 2020s.
The British Army display of the WAH-64D Apache is one I have seen plenty of pictures of but I haven’t had much of a chance to shoot it myself. The majority of the display is pretty standard stuff with them maneuvering tightly in front of the crowd, much like the US army’s display of the similar type. They do use a little bit of pyro during the display but the finale is a wall of fire. I was a bit concerned about my position compared to theirs as they positioned for the big moment as the background looked like it might not be all fire. However, things turned out well enough and I got the sort of shot I was hoping for.