MOUNT PLEASANT Texas (KLTV) - The Mid America Flight Museum at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport has over 40 vintage aircraft that are flight-capable, and at least that many stories. KLTV brings us the tale of their Vietnam-era helicopter that still flies, even though it had been shot down during battle.
Mid America Flight Museum Director of Operations Kelly Mahon said they had been looking for a Bell UH-1 H Huey for a couple of years.
“It was really the workhorse of Vietnam. So it would be executive transport, medevac, cargo, gunship; it did it all,” Mahon said.
And this particular chopper returned gunfire.
“This one has two thousand hours in country,” Mahon said.
Mahon points out that a chopper did not belong to the pilot. It belonged to an assigned crew chief.
“His name is David Riley, and he’s flown in the helicopter a number of times, but that’s been fifty years now,” Mahon said.
Riley lives in Indiana but has come to East Texas to see the Huey.
“He has come here and brought pilots with him that have flown the helicopter with him in Vietnam. And it’s quite the story to listen to them talk. They would point across the room and tell multiple stories about that guy saved my life,” Mahon said.
Considering this Huey was shot down three times, there was probably some opportunity for life-saving back then since:
“All three times David Riley was on board because the crew chief stays with the helicopter. I mean that kind of service, not many people have that,” Mahon said.
Mahon said the Huey has a very distinctive sound when it takes to the skies in Titus County.
“Small community; everybody knows when this one’s outside and flying because it makes plenty of noise. But, you know, back and forth to the lake or back and forth to lunch, it’s got a mission every time it goes out,” Mahon said.
The Huey has had about eight months of “missions” in the area.
“We had it to school functions. We’ve done flyovers for high school graduations this year,” Mahon said.
When I asked him, he said it has not been used for wild hog hunting ... yet.
But whether or not the Huey will be used for that, well, that’s still up in the air.
The Huey is just one of 28 aircraft on display in the Mid America Flight Museum hangars at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport. They are still closed due to colder weather and the COVID-19 pandemic but plan on reopening this spring.
To watch the full interview, click the video above.
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