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Adrenaline Rush on a Genuine Vietnam Combat Huey Helicopter

Updated on March 9, 2015

They starred in Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and The Green Berets as well as many other adventure movies. And I am not talking about Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall or any of the other movies stars.

I am referring to the UH-1, or the Huey helicopter which made its debut in 1956 when it was introduced into the U.S. Military and later earned its fame during the Vietnam War.

Image : Wikimedia Commons
Image : Wikimedia Commons
Huey Uh-1A in Flight Image : Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain
Huey Uh-1A in Flight Image : Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain

Huey History

Besides its distinctive and particularly loud sound the Huey makes during flight, its other distinguishing features are its rounded nose and twin-bladed rotor. The Huey was the first turbine-equipped U.S. helicopter to go into production and although originally intended for evacuation purposes it did not take long before the Huey was being used by the Army in operational services.

In 1962 The Huey was used for combat in Vietnam. Although originally used to transport troops and as a medevac helicopter it was later used to protect troop transports as an armed assault helicopter. At this time the U.S. Military had just started to develop the concept of "air mobility" whereby helicopters were used to transport troops in and out of combat zones. The exceptional agility of the Huey made them the helicopter of choice for these operations.

However the Huey proved to be particularly vulnerable to small arms fire shot by ground troops of the Viet Cong who started holding their ground against the helicopters. The Huey model then in use by the Army was the H-21 Huey. Early in 1963 the U.S.Army ordered a modified version of the Huey the UH-!D Huey with a more powerful engine and an enlarged and stretched main cabin. More than 2,500 of the Huey UH-1's were brought into service the last version being the Huey UH-1H.

Huey UH-1N in Iraq 2003 Wikimedia - Public Domain
Huey UH-1N in Iraq 2003 Wikimedia - Public Domain

Introduction of Twin-Engine Huey

The single engine Huey UH-1H was not suitable for the U.S. Marine Corps as the danger of an engine failure over the water was just too high a risk to take. Helicopters tend to flip over when they hit water making them notoriously difficult to escape from in these circumstances. The first twin-engine Huey, the UH-1N, with its slightly pointed nose, was introduced to the Marine Corps in 1970.

The large volume of Huey helicopters ordered by the U.S.Army made it possible for its manufacturer, Bell, to offer the Huey at a very competitive price both commercially and overseas. The enormous popularity was however not based solely on price as the Huey proved to be an excellent mix of lifting capability, speed and cabin room. It had the power that previous piston-engine helicopters lacked and proved to be both reliable and able to hold its own in service.

The Huey is now the most popular and most famous of all helicopters of the 20th Century and is used by more than 60 air forces throughout the world.

Huey Helicopter Company Cape Town

The Huey Helicopter Company in V&A Waterfront Cape Town are the proud owners of a genuine Vietnam Huey. This particular Huey did two tours in Vietnam and was used extensively to train pilots at Fort Rucker, Alabama. 

It has been meticulously restored to its original military livery and is maintained by a group of dedicated engineers and ground crew with extensive aviation experience. This team carries out thorough daily inspections of the Huey to ensure the safety of all who fly in her.

Huey Helicopter Company's Huey
Huey Helicopter Company's Huey

The Team

The Huey Helicopter Company has a team of dedicated  and experienced pilots to fly the Huey helicopters. These pilots are required to sign a pilot charter committing themselves to helicopter flight levels and airmanship which is designed to reduce the impact on both residents and the marine environment.

This is in line with the company's commitment to minimize the impact on  the environment and residents of Cape Town

Map to Find the Offices of Huey Helicopter Company Cape Town

Simulated Combat Mission

This company offers various helicopter trips around Cape Town but the ultimate for adrenaline junkies is the 30 minute combat simulation flight on the Huey. This combat mission flight promises to give you a thrill-a-minute as the pilot takes you through sharp maneuvering, including steep climbs and hard banking as well as low level flying while simulating a flight through a combat zone. With doors in an open position and Combat music playing these flights are set to give you an experience of a lifetime.

The flight takes you over the Wild West Coast as far as Melkbosstrand and then flies inland over the Blouberg Hills. With adrenalin pumping through your veins and the wind rushing in your ears this Combat Mission will be an adventure not easily forgotten.

Combat Missions fly daily, weather permitting. Tickets are sold on an individual basis and it is advisable to book in advance.

It is also recommended that you wear closed shoes and if you wish to take a camera make sure it has a strap so that you can hang it around your neck. With all the maneuvers that you have the pleasure of experiencing on this flight you don't want to end up losing your belongings.

Photographs Taken During a Combat Flight

My son took his employees on the Huey Helicopter Combat Mission last year for their year-end function. Below are some of the photographs taken during their flight.

A taste of the panoramic views that you experience on this exhilarating flight.

Table Mountain - Huey Combat Simulation Flight
Table Mountain - Huey Combat Simulation Flight
Cape Town Harbor
Cape Town Harbor
Kite Surfers - Bloubergstrand
Kite Surfers - Bloubergstrand
Refuelling after the trip
Refuelling after the trip

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