Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kaman Cooltech Heli's Pt1

As kids we lived on and around Randolph AFB, Texas back in
the '60's, Randolph had a squadron [well at least 2 anyway] of
Search and Rescue [SAR] helicopters stationed there. A bravo
idea. At a training base accidents do happen.  Back then, the
helicopters they used were the HH43 Kaman Huskie. Along
with patrolling the local flight paths and training areas off
base, they would take part in practice crash rescues and fire
suppression. There were a couple wrecked airframes on the
east side of the base and once a week or so they'd light one
on fire, then scramble a Huskie and the base firetrucks to
come in and put the fire out.  Top entertainment for a kid,
a bit nerve wracking for pilot's wives.

As helicopters go, I ALWAYS thought the Kaman Huskie was
the coolest. A stubby little glass box with a whole bunch of tail
fins and those eggbeater twin rotors counter-rotating overhead.
A unique look and a unique sound.  At least till recently.

I onced swapped a few beers with a heli pilot who flew USAF
SAR Huskies in Thailand during the "Police Action". He loved the
Huskie, but he said they had one major drawback at the time.
The rotor blades were made of Spruce wood. After a rain or
even a heavy dewfall, the wet blades would sag far enough to
risk a strike during startup. The blades had to be dry before
takeoff. No doubt modern composite blades have little or no
trouble with this.

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