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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Planes, Planes and More Planes

Some more Presidential aircraft at the National Naval Aviation Museum.  A helicopter know as "Marine One".  This helicopter was used by both Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Pretty nice, functional interior, obviously not designed by an RV manufacturer.

Another Presidential aircraft.

Huh?  What's so special about it?  This:

This is the plane that then President George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln to deliver his famous "Mission Accomplished" speech, announcing the end of combat operations in Iraq.

In the next building at the museum, they have housed a great collection of...Coast Guard aircraft.

This particular aircraft brought back memories.

It is a Sikorsky HH-52.  They were used from the 1960s to around the mid 1980s when they were phased out and replaced by a new helicopter.

The HH-52 was unique because it could be landed on the water and drive over to rescue mariners in distress.  The airframe is shaped like a boat and the pontoons on each side kept it stable on the water.

During rescues where it was too rough to land on the water, the helicopter crew would lower a basket to the person in distress and winch the person up into the helo.

Thus, my story about how I nearly took a dive out of one of these helicopters without a parachute.

Mid 1980s, I was part of a team of Coasties performing helicopter demonstrations at a large boating festival.  I was in the water off the beach where we were performing a helicopter basket hoist.  The helo was about 100 feet over my head and lowered the basket.  I climbed into the basket and was winched upward toward the helo.  Just as the basket was almost to the door, a gust of wind blew me and the basket into the pontoon.  Before the winch operator could stop the winch, the edge of the basket hooked on the pontoon and tipped the basket, almost throwing me out.  Fortunately I was able to grab the basket (with a death grip) with one hand and kept myself from being pitched all the way out of the basket.  The basket ripped open the pontoon and broke free, then the winch operator was able to pull me and the basket into the helicopter.  A little too close for comfort.  It's funny now but at the time...

If you can find the time to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, do it.  And wear comfortable shoes.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. Definitely too close for comfort. What a great museum.

  2. ...and everyone thought it was part of the show... :-)

  3. least you lived to tell the tale!..

  4. Well, Sue stole my comment ... so I'll just say ... we're laughing now, but I bet that wouldn't have been the case at the time.

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  6. I think we could park that one in an RV park and pretend its a Prevost?

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  7. Very interesting Paul. I'm not a Bush fan but did he really land that on the air craft carrier? Or was he a passenger??

    I knew we must get to the Coast Guard aircraft at some point. But your story is pretty scary. You do have some tales. And this is a job you loved huh?

  8. Wow! Another great museum I'd love to visit. Your helicopter story doesn't sound like a fun time. Glad you hold on tight but probably not as glad as you are!! Thanks for the info.

  9. You do have some white-knuckled tales to tell, don't you?? My hands are sweating.

    I was hoping you might have a picture of Marti's pedicure that she got while you were looking at the airplanes. ;-)