Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thank you, Sandpoint!

A local film maker, Mike Strain,  is doing "Life after service: North Idaho Veterans" a documentary  of veterans in Sandpoint.  He interviewed me about "Charlie."

here is his url for his video service, My Legacy Videos:

If anybody has any dirty, nasty old cash lying around they could spare, project "Charlies" needs a bit of a cash infusion.
Tax deductible donations can be made out to
Viet Nam Veterans of America, chapter 890. 
Mail to
V.V.A. Chapter 890
P.O. box 2014
ID 83864

Write on the check:  "for Charlie."  "for the H-34"  or something to indicate donation is for the old H-34.
Many thanks again to all the wonderful supporters out there who have helped us get this far, and thanks to those who will help now and in the future to help this project move forward.

We are gearing up for the "LOST IN 50's" parade in May, and are in need of a few dollars to continue sprucing up the old bird.
In June we will be towing her to our local Veterans Stand Down at the fairgrounds. 
That is a very short distance from her new home at the A-1 Sandpoint Helicopters new home base.
August will see her at Lake View Park for the annual veterans picnic, and once again we will be taking her to the local high school for Veteran's Day activities in November.
We may even be able to have Charlie deliver Santa at the local Christmas tree lighting ceremony down town next Christmas.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Charlie's move this week made the front page of our local newspaper, the 

The day after the move, we went out and removed ALL the extraneous materials that had accumulated over the winter, when stuff just got thrown into the helicopter in a hurry because of the cold weather. In our new warm, inside work space, we can begin to work on the final details of our relic and make her as beautiful as a helicopter of 55 years can be.

A gigantic THANK YOU to A-1 Sandpoint Helicopters for the space to park her.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Charlie's move make front page news!

Yesterday fror Charlie's move, our local newspaper, the Bonner County BEE, sent reporter/photographer Cameron Rasmusson to cover Charlie's move.

We made the front page.
That article will be scanned and added to the blog very soon.
Check back.

An especial great big thank you to all the fellows who pitched in and helped with the preparation and moving of our old H-34.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Charlie's move, part 2

(This is part two of a two part posting
see below for part one.)
Here is Everett Wood backing Charlie into her new home at the Sandpoint airport.
There was a light snow falling.

Dick Williams, Russ Fankell, Joel D'Atoilio and his brothers helping guide Charlie into the Sandpoint Helicopter, Inc. hangar.  In the hangar, there are three other helicopters.  A Bell 204 Huey, a tiny D shaped Hughes 269 trainer, and a pointy-nose McDonald Douglass 500F.  Their hangar is so clean that they put bits of carpet under Charlie's wheels to keep the floor clean.

The start of the journey from Quality Collision Repair to airport hangar.
Ev Wood, towmeister.

"One door closes; another door opens."...ancient wisdom.


We had the official flag lowering and closing of Helicopter Base "Charlie" today, complete with presenting the flag back to it's donor and presntation of a  Certification of Appreciation to Richard Oliver.
Richard has been raising the flag over his business and reciting the Pledge fo Allegiance every morning before starting work, and lowering the flag with a folding ceremony every day he has been in business.

 Jim Miller and Richard Oliver folding the flag.

           The troops saluting the U.S. flag as it lowered for ther last time at Helicopter base Charlie
Russ Fankel, Everett Wood, Dick Williams, Dick Carrier, Bruce Vogelsinger.

Commandant Everett Wood presents Certificate of Appreciation to Richard
for donating free space rent for nearly a year.
Richard also led us in a short prayer in which he gave thanks and prayed for safety for all the troop serving overseas and elsewhere.
She now resides inside a huge hangar at Sandpoint Airport  (SZT) courtesy of Sandpoint Helicopters, Inc.

Charlie safely nestled into her new digs.
NOTE:  the left tow bar has a slight bend upwards.

About three weeks ago, Richard Oliver of Quality Collision repair telephoned that he is closing his business, and requested we remove "Charlie" from his side yard. This news set in play the series of events which led to Charlie's moving to a new home today.

First of all, when the former Marines of Detachment #1110 of the Marine Corps League heard the news Tuesday morning (Valentine's Day), they immediately pitched in right after the a.m. meeting to help hang the forth blade, and then to fold the two side blades into the blade saddle. Helpers for this were Marine Corps League Detachment #1110 Commandant Everett Wood, Senior Vice Commandant Bob Rutherford, Jr. Vice Commandant Bill Collier, new member (and soon to be Adjutant-Paymaster, maybe) Dick Williams, Richard Oliver, Jim Livingstone, and Dr. Ken Conger and Jim Miller.  They also pulled the trailer from the back corner of the lot and loaded all the spares onto it, ready to be towed away.

the two opposite side blades in the saddle.
We decided to leave the fore and after blades in place rather than fold them.  The aft blade would ride right over the tail, and the forward blade would stick out front, but not beyoned the tow vehicle.  This turned out to be a bit of a mistake, but worked out OK over all.
In this case, we stole a little bit of "HUEY" technology in that we drilled holes in the tops of the blade caps, which nicely received the metal hooks from motorcycle tie-down straps and made it much easier to secure the aft blade directly to the tail.

Initially, we were going to put her in a field next to the FBO at the airport, but at the Viet Nam Vets meeting Tuesday night, we decided that that was a bit too legally precarious, as we have no insurance to protect the public or the organizations from suit should someone climb on the helicopter, fall off and break a neck.  Then we remembered that Joel D'Atollio of Sandpoint Helicopters had offered us some free space in his hangar at our local airport.  A visit there confirmed that the offer was still viable.

Today we mustered forces and made the big move, but not without a few almost comical complications.

Here are Richard Oliver, Ev Wood and Russ Fankell hooking up Charlie to Ev's truck for towing.
This would make the sixth time we had towed Charlie and we feel we have it down to a smooth operation.
(MCL Sgt. at Arms Dick Carrier showed up to help, but was a little inder the weather; 
 he  returned home to rest.  We checked later, he was resting well and OK.)
But, this was the first time we had tried to tow her with blades; things got a little complicated.

We had a bit of a problem folding the tail against the pylon.  The tethered, middle rear blade was in the way of the tail rotor hub. Russ Fankel then realized that if we removed a second tail rotor blade, the tail rotor hub would be lower than the blade.  (We already had the highest t/r blade off to clear wires enroute to the airport.)  That worked, except that the left folded blade in the saddle was in the way, too.  Jockeying it around, we managed to pull on the left blade too hard, pulling one of the brackets for the saddle completely  off the helicopter, causing the blade end to crash to the ground with a loud bang.
In addition, we failed to pull Charlie out of the gate far enough, and when we tried to rotate the rotor head a bit to facilitate this move, the fore blade wanted to hit the building.  We also could not turn the helicopter for towing bercause of this blade hitting the building.  Finally, some one came up with the idea of using the blade folding-lifting tools, to lift the blade higher than the building while turning the helo.  That worked,  helo out of pen, blades clear, lined up ready to go.
Then we had the tail wheel problem.
Last time we parked Charlie in her pen, we decided to put her in nose first so the MARINES side would show to the streets.  In doing so, made it difficult to hitch her up to back out, so we decided to simply hook a chain to the tail wheel assembly and pull her out backwards.  This worked OK except we did not realize that we had triggered the tail wheel locking pin mechanism.  Before we discoverd the problem, we bent the heck out of our tow bars because the tail wheel was not swiveling, and the helicopter would not turn. At first we heard the loud smashing of the helicopter's nose, we thought it was because the trailer ball needed lubrication.  That proved to be false just a few feet further on, when we bashed in the other side of the nose! Then Dick Williams, former Navy air crew, noticed the tail wheel was not swiveling.  It t took us just a few seconds to use vice grips to pull up and lock the locking pin.  Smooth sailing all the way after that.

It looks like we have created a bit more work for ourselves.  We will have to repair the slightly bashed in nose, permanently disable the tail wheel lock, and perhaps have to fabricate a new, stronger tow bar.