Pedro’s Big Move
PEDRO 58-1841 03 NOV 04
A month of planning was
involved before we could begin the move of the H-43 from The Pate Museum in
The crew arrived at the museum at on Tuesday. The day was a cold one with wind chills below freezing and clouds in the sky. We began right away to get the aircraft opened up and begin stripping off parts that needed to be removed to tow it away. The crew split into two teams, one to start loosening the bolts attaching the transmission housing to the airframe and the other to detach the outboard rudders and horizontal stabilizer. Things started surprisingly easy. A shot of liquid wrench on all the fasteners allowed them to all break free very easily. Our fears of bolts that had been on for 20 years not coming off hadn’t happened. Of course things couldn’t stay this easy.
The rudder crew had no problem removing the left side pivot bolt, center actuator, hydraulic and electric wires. The right side pivot bolt was another story. We could get the nut off but the bolt itself would not come out. We spent 2 hours trying everything. At one point using a hacksaw blade to reach in and cut the bolt in half. Something within the bushings was keeping us from getting the bolt out. The decision was made to forget about the pivot bolt and in about 10 minutes the hinge was unbolted from the rudder and assembly removed.
The transmission team had fewer problems. The mounting bolts were quickly loosened. After providing some help with the rudder assembly, they made their way inside the aircraft to open the maintenance access panels on the roof of the crew compartment. Most of the screws come off the panels easily but a lot of muscle was needed to pull them down. The gaskets had basically glued the panels into place. Once the panels were freed, what seemed like a dozen birds nests came flying down into the crew compartment. We think the local bird population lost one of their prime nesting spots when the Huskie left. After about an hour, all flight control rods were disconnected. Some took some persuasion from a BH (big hammer to those not familiar with the term) to separate from the transmission. All the hydraulic lines in sight were removed and a very cold day of disassembly was done. We left for the 20 minute drive to the hotel, ready to meet the crane in the morning.
The team arrived at the museum at . The crane was already in place and ready to lift. After doing a courtesy pull of some old fence posts for the museum, we attached a strap to the rotor tower and were ready to lift. The final two bolts holding the assembly in place was removed and the crane started lifting. It was immediately clear that some lines were still attached. The saws-all was quickly pulled out and 5 minutes later anything keeping the transmission from lifting in the air was cut.
The crane quickly lifted the assembly and pivoted it around to load in a 1½ ton stake bed truck.
It was now time to lift the airframe and take it the 150 feet to the trailer. The straps were wrapped around the airframe at the transmission mounts and the Huskie was in the air again. The distance from the trailer turned out to be a non-issue when the crane operator lifted the outriggers and drove the crane over to the trailer with the helicopter suspended. He then put the helo right on the marks of the trailer. What we thought would take most of the day was over in a little over an hour.
The HH-43 was on the trailer and only needed to be chained down but our driver would not be there to pick up the trailer until the following morning. The team spent the remainder of the day scraping, cleaning, and tearing out parts. The helicopter hadn’t even gotten to Goodfellow yet and we already started the restoration.
The following day was pretty anticlimactic. The driver showed up right on time at about . They had a wide load permit beginning at to drive the trailer back. It took about an hour to chain her down and a roll of duct tape was used on seams and Plexiglas to try to make sure all the parts stayed on for the trip. One of the drivers took a lot of interest in our plans for the helicopter.
It turns out that he once did sheet metal work on aircraft for the Air Force before he lost his job in a base closure. He missed doing sheet metal work a lot and has volunteered to do the sheet metal work on the airframe for us! Some days things just go better than you can ask for. Finally, at everything was ready and the Huskie left its home of the last 20 years.
The H-43 now sits in the high
bay of the
SMSgt Jeff Nabozny
The following pictures show the progress of the restoration to date.
A special thanks to all involved with restoring this wonderful piece of our history.
Although the restoration is being accomplished by volunteers, the $ cost $ is being
covered by The Military Firefighters Heritage Foundation. To read about this organization
and contribute to this or other projects, go to:
Home at the Academy
28 June 05
To the Paint Booth
Floor Bulkheads and Fuel Tank
This indeed is a special aircraft. If you look carefully at the inside empennage, you will see that it is the square tail type that came standard on all early 1958 "B" models. Due to blade strikes on the high square tail, these tails were modified to the rounded configuration and all (except one) early H-43s were retrofitted. This is the last known H-43B airframe known to still have the original square tail configuration.
31 May 1967 airframe redesignated GHH-43B (Ground Instruction Aircraft).
Thanks to Johan D. Ragay http://www.h43-huskie.info/index.htm for providing the above history.