Now, we’re finally getting to the good stuff. Which sits up on top of the carrier. Things that fly.
Since my camera got a little carried away in capturing amazing airplanes and helicopters on board, I thought I would break it up into categories. Hold on to your rotors, because today we shall see the helicopters of the USS Midway.
We might as well start out big. This is the HUP Retriever helicopter, which first flew back in 1948. So, when the Midway began sailing the seven seas with this helicopter on board, it was brand-new technology.
Helicopters are what got me into aviation, you know?
And this big guy is the H-34 Seabat, which was created by Sikorsky and used mostly in anti-submarine warfare. Look how they save space by folding the rotors backwards when not being flown.
I’m amazed that up to eighteen sailors could fit in the back of this thing! It was also used for medical transport and could carry up to eight stretchers.
This giant is the SH-3 Sea King, which was also made by Sikorsky. This was the first anti-submarine helicopter to ever use turboshaft engines, which makes it a pioneer in its day in 1959.
Sikorsky was challenged to create an anti-submarine helicopter that could combine the roles of hunter and killer. Before the Sea King, these two properties of a helicopter had always been separate.
Also, if you look closely on this fuselage, you can see that this particular helicopter helped recover space capsules. How cool is that?!
Goodness knows that there is plenty of room inside for astronauts and their gear. I sat in this seat for a while and soaked up all of the ancient smells of an ancient helicopter. I really love old stuff.
And even though it was plexi-glassed to avoid tourists throwing some switches and starting up, the cockpit view was incredible. Aren’t these cool old switches and gauges amazing! This technology is over fifty years old!
These helicopters were built to be work horses and thus were spared on such luxuries as interior lining and plush seats. But in its day, the Sea King truly was king.
Man, I love this. I only have about seven switches like this on my new airplane. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in making things better. But old was certainly neat to see on my tour of the aircraft carrier today.
Despite a similar designation, this SH-2 Sea Sprite is not related to the Sea King. Instead of Sikorsky creating it, the Sprite was the brainchild of Kaman. It came into service in 1962 and actually served in the Navy until 2001.
As you can see, it also had turbine engines to turn the rotor. This was new technology back then, and maybe we just take it for granted these days.
The Sea Sprite played a huge part in the Vietnam War, where it helped to recover downed flight crews from the jungle.
Can you see how the rotor blade is shaped just like a miniature wing? That is what creates the lift to make helicopters fly. Instead of the Sea Sprite moving forward to generate lift on this rotor wing (like an airplane moving forward on its takeoff roll), the rotors spin to generate enough lift to move this Sea Sprite up.
Helicopters are amazing.
I have a friend who flew these for the Marines, and it’s such a neat machine! This is the HH-46 Sea Knight, made by Boeing. An earlier version of this helicopter is called the flying banana from Piasecki. Boeing won out the contract to make a bigger-and-better version, and thus the Sea Knight was born.
The Sea Knight was a multi-tasker for every needed situation. It could perform missions in Search and Rescue, aircraft refueling support, and troop movement and support. With a capacity to carry up to 350 gallons of fuel, this guy could fly long and far in its missions.
It’s still used in three branches of our military!
And, as you can see, it is roomy and huge inside. It could almost pass for a living room, as demonstrated by these foreign tourists enjoying a pit stop during their carrier exploration.
Ahhhh, the Bell Huey. These have such a distinct sound. I can recognize them from miles away when I hear them approaching. It has a different meaning for me, I’m sure, than for the Vietnam War veterans who saw this helicopter in action for which it is most-known.
Look at that armament! I’m just glad that the Huey is on our side. 7,000 of these Hueys saw action during the war in Vietnam.
This particular Huey helicopter was flown in the Seawolves squadron in Vietnam from 1966-1972. Can you imagine what this bird has seen? I am so grateful to all of the service men and women who have sacrificed to help keep this country free.
This H-60 Seahawk is the Navy’s version of the Army’s Blackhawk helicopter. Since its first active flight was just one year after I was born in 1983, this helicopter could be considered the newest of the bunch on top of the Midway today.
We also still see these Seahawks in use by the Coast Guard during their sea rescues. It is an incredible machine that can do just about anything.
There were lots of rotor blades on this ship!
Here is a front-view of the Seahawk. This helicopter came about to replace the Kaman Sea Sprite, which we saw above. It is used all over the world in navies today. India, Denmark, Australia, Korea, and Qatar are just some of the foreign nationalities who use the Seahawk in their militaries.
So there you have it! Helicopters galore found on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. I think I’d be too chicken to fly helicopters now, but they sure are fun to see.
Some airplane are coming tomorrow!