The Liberty War Bird Association is a non-profit organization which works to restore Vietnam-era UH-1 (Huey) helicopters for Veterans of the Vietnam War and the American public. The Huey played an important and very visible role in the Vietnam War and in 1970, of the 3,900 helicopters being used in the war, 2/3 of them were Hueys. Hueys also transported 90% of the combat casualties during the war. It would be rare to find a Vietnam Veteran who was not transported in a Huey or directly supported by a Huey at some point during the war, which is why the mission of the Liberty War Bird Association is so important. With the association’s hard work and dedication, Vietnam Veterans can experience one last flight in a Huey. The American public will also be able to learn more about the history of one of the Vietnam Wars most iconic helicopters.
Of the 10,005 UH-1 helicopters that Bell Helicopter built from 1957 to 1975:
- 9,216 went to the U.S. Army
- 79 went to the Air Force
- 42 went to the U.S. Navy
- 127 went to the Marine Corps
- The remaining UH-1 went to other countries
Records show that 7,013 Hueys served in the Vietnam War. Almost all were U.S. Army. 3,305 Hueys were destroyed in Vietnam. 2,709 U.S. Military were killed while in Hueys which includes 1,074 pilots, 1,103 crew members and 532 American Passengers.
The Huey has more combat flight time than any other aircraft in the history of warfare. Army Hueys totaled 7,531,955 flight hours in the Vietnam War. The Huey Cobra (AH-1G) logged a total of 1,038,969 flight hours in Vietnam.
Located in a hangar in Lititz, Pennsylvania, the association’s first project, Huey 823, patiently waits as she is slowly brought back to life by the Liberty War Bird Association. Huey 823 cut her teeth in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 serving first with C Company of the 101st Aviation Battalion and later with the 170th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC). Her many patched up bullet holes are scars of a time spent serving troops in a war zone. According to the Liberty War Bird Association, the estimated cost of the restoration of Huey 823 is around $400,000, all of which is funded through tax-deductible donations and 100% of the donations go to the restorations.
The restoration of Huey 823 started with a site visit by members of the Liberty War Bird Association to Fresno, California in March of this year where it was quickly identified that she would need new rotor blades. The mission was planned to get Huey 823 to her new home in Pennsylvania and on April 15th, she started her journey and would arrive on April 21. Huey 823’s new home in the hangar of Dutch Country Helicopters in Lititz, PA is where she will stay during the restoration process which will take about one year. Since her arrival in Pennsylvania, Huey 823 has been cleaned, inspections are taking place, parts are being repaired and replaced, and a replica M60D has even been mounted.
In order to get Huey 823 off the ground, the Liberty War Bird Association needs to replace the main rotor blades. A set of main rotor blades has been found with about 200 flight hours remaining, but the cost is $38,800. The association has turned to GoFundMe as a way to reach out to the public to give them the opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation toward helping to get a piece of history off the ground again.
Check out the video below from the Liberty War Bird Association.
You can view their gofundme page titled “Rotor Blades For Vietnam Veteran” here: http://www.gofundme.com/b38rc7qbks. You can view the Liberty War Birds Association homepage at http://libertywarbirds.com/