The seemingly ubiquotous UH 1H is about to be retired due to the Tiger chopper coming into service in the next month or two. Chief bastard points this out and asks for any pictures of the gunships in action. The Tiger, pictured below will be a great addition to the ADF’s inventory but it’s just not the same. Looks mean alongside the lines of the old Huey. I have lots of photos of Huey ‘slicks’ (troop carriers) but none of huey gunships in action. There is a very good reason for this. If gunships were around it was because we were in trouble and they were shooting at bad guys that were shooting at us. Not a ‘kodak’ moment. For 40 years the Huey has been a part of the defence scene around the world and will be sadly missed, although I hope defence keeps a couple flying, if only to send shivers down the spines of Vietnam Vets at reunions. The line from Redgum’s ‘I was only Nineteen’ when he asks ….why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet? is only a line to most but to me and most of my peers it is real. If ever a sound triggered memories it is the wop, wop, wop of choppers – it does it for me everytime. I was watching my rugby coach son’s football team play last year when a chopper flew overhead. I involuntarily shivered like a dog shaking off water. The spectator alongside picked it in one when he asked “Vietnam Vet?” I laughingly answered in the positive but felt a bit embarrassed to be caught out. Thanks Huey for all the rides, for all the ordnance fired in the interests of my longevity and for the sound of your blades, the tips of which broke the sound barrier, making that distinctive, memorable, memory triggering sound.
I always thought that Redgum line was a bit silly- the Huey has a really distinctive rotor beat; nothing else sounds like it, and most news crews use Bell Jetrangers (Kiowas) which sound like a motocross bike in comparison. When my old man was director of the State Emergency Service, however, he liked to have the SES Aerospitale’ Squirrel make low level passes over Darra th “keep the noggies on their toes”, so there may be something to it.
Kev, can you hit up any of your mates for ANY Vietnam era footage, photo’s, film etc. The Squadron that operates them would really like to give the Bushranger the sendoff it deserves.
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