Mike Holland, Col. USMC (Ret.), Chief Pilot with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation's Sky Soldiers Demonstration Teams, came with several of his colleagues for appearances at AHMEC's RotorFest 2014. During their trip he discovered that he was very familiar the TH-1L 157817 Huey on display in our gallery.
We are very excited and grateful that he shared his account with us. Thank you, Col. Holland!
I returned from Vietnam late summer of 1970 and was assigned to NAS Ellyson Field in Pensacola, FL, as an advanced helicopter flight instructor. At the time we were receiving brand new TH-1L model Hueys from Bell Helicopter at the rate of a couple per week as I recall.
They were handsome, fast, maneuverable, and smooth flying machines, with the first of the 540 type rotor head systems. We used them to teach advanced students everything from basic maneuvers to confined area operations, to external load operations, to advanced instrument flying. They had that “new car smell,” which was considerably different from anything I'd ever flown in the military.
Checking my Naval Aviator's logbook, I first flew 157817 (on) 16 November 1970, a number of times after that, and last flew her on 28 January 1971. Shortly thereafter, I transitioned to the T-2C as a basic jet flight instructor, and spent the remainder of my Marine Corps career in fixed wing aircraft, primarily the A-4 Skyhawk, retiring in 1995.
As probably any aviator will understand, it is an emotional experience to be reunited with a favorite aircraft one actually flew after so many years, and I certainly felt that October 10th (2014) when I called home to ask my wife to check my logbook to verify my flights in 157817 after I saw her in the (American Helicopter) museum. Additionally, I also flew the TH-1L pictured in the Information Presentation on the pedestal next to the display.
Mike Holland/Col USMC (ret)
Chief Pilot AAHF