The Wild and Wacky search for the Main Rotor Blades
"27 foot main rotor blades for a 1954 Sikorsky H-34 Helicopter". If you google this, neither Amazon, nor Walmart nor Home Depot show up on the search page. I guess they are too much of a specialty item. Craigslist is a possibility; ebay is pretty hit or miss. Somehow, we got a line on two rotors with no remaining airtime at "Wing and Rotors" in Temecula, California. Pat Rodgers, a former US Army Airman and Vietnam Veteran, has been restoring old warbirds at French Valley Airport.
Let's see, rebuild a 16 foot trailer so it will accomodate two much longer articles, load up an old Harley Davidson survey car to deliver in Redlands and we're on the road. Just head west right? I guess I-40 will get you there, "I thought you knew the way!!"
There are some two lane highways going through the California desert that you just don't need to be running out of gas on. Places where the ultimate shoe graveyard is the biggest remaining attraction.
In 1985, a friend asked me, "Do you want to buy an Army Surplus helicopter for $250?" I responded, "Why would I want to do that? It has to be some sort of scam." It wasn't.
Over a hundred of these old birds were cut loose from Davis Monthan Airbase and available for sale at Bob's Airpark in Tucson. My future son-in-law bought and resold several, one of which is still flying today. But I had no vision of the future.
It's 2012; it was a bit more expensive but here she is, coming down the road! It was the most exciting day of the year. Seeing this grand flying machine up close for the first time was awesome! 57 feet long, 15 feet high! Step inside and it whispers to you. History...
As a child in the 1950's I remember hearing the approaching "Tok Tok Tok" of helicopter rotors and rushing outside in excitement. Back then, helicopters were not common, and the rare birds we saw were the Military H-34.
The Sikorsky H-34 "Choctaw" was a piston driven aircraft designed for service in the United States Navy for anti-submarine warfare. It's tremendous lift capacity was soon put to use transporting troops and cargo. It served in Viet Nam in the 1960's and 70's and worked as a rescue vehicle over water and rugged terrain. It retrieved astronauts for NASA's Mercury Space Program and transported United States Presidents. Though a few of the turbo powered birds are still in civilian use, it is rarely seen outside of an air museum today.
The largest single remaining group of these retired aircraft were shredded and sold to Vietnamese scrappers in 2011. This one survived.
Piece by piece, the few remaining parts are being located and restored. You can read about it and see it's progress in this Blog.
This aircraft is for sale at any time during the restoration process. As the restoration progresses, it's value will naturally increase. You can view it's current value by clicking HERE