a lot of desire and limited funds, we responded to a Chopper shopper
ad for some H19s. The asking price was $50k. To make a long story (a
bit) shorter, Mrs. R.L. Jones had her late husbands Hl9
"Liberty" and two other hulks for sale in Ft Pierce
Florida. Liberty was painted in Red White and Blue and Stars and
Stripes. Although Mrs. Jones had many other offers, she couldn't let
Liberty be sold for parts. We assured her that Liberty would be
given a good home and restored and flying to airshows again. With
the tax incentives we could offer and a lot of pleading, we were
able to obtain Liberty, another Hl9 hulk (restorable) and two 48ft
trailers full of parts, tools, engines, etc.
My wife, Billie and I drove
Craig's truck (ex-military/no air-conditioning) to Florida. Our
vacation this year consisted of 3000 miles of diesel fumes,
110-degree weather and lots of bees... ...And we were heading for
Hurricane Floyd as it headed west. We made Florida and thankfully
missed Floyd. With the help of Vertical Aviation Technologies in
Orlando (they restore S55's with turbines), we obtained a trailer
for towing the H19s. We spent some time and money restoring the
trailer (probably wasn't used for 30 years).
Mark Diciero and Bruce
Rodgers flew to Orlando, we all spent the day at the recovery site
in Ft. Pierce before Billie and I flew home. Mark and Bruce spent
the next week, usually till 3am (it was a
Working in the swamps getting things packed up. They said they
didn't have a problem staying awake, the alligators helped them with
that. They were also warned of the black widows, brown recluse
spiders and pigmy rattlesnakes. That week they got the two trailers,
which were not roadworthy to the railhead (I understand some back
roads were used!) they got Liberty on the trailer and headed to
Craig made it to Florida
and began the trip back with Liberty and made it as far as Louisiana
before a little corrosion in the tail boom took its toll. With the
help of Home Depot and a Wench, Craig made it to Shreveport.
was again on a plane, now along with Ed who meet Max Hall. Max has
an H21C and lives in Arkansas. Max has been a supporter of Classic
Rotors for some time and just happened to be on his way back from
Dallas with a new flatbed utility trailer. The three worked all
night in the parking lot of the Pelican Inn to remove the tail
boom, blades and old spraying equipment. (We now understand the
spraying tank probably wouldn't have made it past the California
inspection station). Mark said they were really quiet while working
all night at the motel, and the upstairs balcony was just the right
height for working on the tail boom. For some reason, I think
classic rotors is probably persona-non-grata the Blue top.
Two days later, Ed and Mark
made it home with Liberty, minus the tail boom. The first thing
Liberty did was go to the local car wash.
Bruce drove the truck
back to Florida in early December to retrieve the second H19, a new
tail boom, and many other parts, thanks to VAT and especially Lynn
Franks. Mark made his fourth trip east to help Bruce drive back and
they made it as far as "the thing" (100 miles east of Tucson)
before truck problems set in. They had to leave the Hl9 at Big
Dave's Towing" for a few days while the truck was repaired.
Yes the trailers made it
too. ...Remember the part about not being roadworthy. Well, one of
them wasn't rail worthy either. The back doors fell off one of them
in New Orleans. They're now both back in Ramona, but there was some
delay while insuring the weigh station in Temecula was closed. Oh,
and the week one spent at the March AFB Museum waiting for a tire.
A lot of people, including
Joe, Howard. Joel and all those mentioned above have been busy every
weekend working on Liberty. We should have Liberty flying in time
for the Miramar Airshow.
I now know what it takes to
obtain old Helicopters on limited funds.