This week we were informed by the National Naval Aviation Musuem (NNAM) in Pensacola, Florida that a CH-53 Sea Stallion was available to us on loan if we wanted the helicopter and we jumped at the opportunity.
Our CH-53 "Patches" as it looks today at NAS Pensacola, Florida. It is called "Patches" because of all the patches applied after being damaged in a rocket attack in Vietnam in 1969.
The CH-53 is a large ("heavy lifter") utility helicopter that has been used by the United States Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy. (The Air Force versions are often called "Jolly Greens Giants.")
In 1971, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 777, the "Flying Armadillos," began flying the 53's out of Naval Air Station Dallas. The airplanes were originally built by Sikorski in Connecticut. Their missions have been primarily logistics support but they have also been used for Special Operations and Search-and-Rescue missions. We are very glad to have this opportunity to bring home one of these battle tested veterans to North Texas as another example of an aircraft that has played a part in North Texas's aviation history.
However, we have many challenges ahead of us before we can recover this airplane to its new home here, not the least of which is financing the move. NNAM does not charge us a fee for loaning the aircraft to us, but they do not provide tranpsortation or logistics support either. Those responsibilities are on us.
Since the rise of Airborne Forward Air Control during World War II, Forward Air Controllers would brief aircraft on targets with a variety of information. One piece of information that was given to these pilots was called a "Save-A-Plane." It purpose was to warn the attack aircraft of potential threats to them in the surrounding area such as artillery activities and such. The Save-A-Plane was designed to literally do just that, save a plane from harm.
Here at the Veterans Memorial Air Park we have adopted that term to spotlight aircraft that we need help to "save." It usually means financial support to save an airplane that has significance to the history of aviation in North Texas or the story of Forward Air Control and Close Air Support but, it can also be a call for logistic or technical support. Save-A-Planes come in many varieties.
Without the generous support we have received over the years, pour Petting Zoo of twenty-two airplanes would be pretty empty.
We have several Save-A-Planes in effect right now and this one for "Patches" is our latest. Through the help of the Marine Corps Aviation Assocaition and other local donors we are half way to our projected goal of $8,000 to recover and transport this CH-53 home.
Although all of the twenty two (soon to be twenty three) airplanes in our collection need assistance and support to remain in good condition, some are in more need of help than others.
Some of our other other "Save-A-Planes" include:
Blue Angel #3: When we were given the opportunity to add a Blue Angle F/A-18 Hornet to our collection, we jumped at the chance. We hadn't had the time to organize a fund raising campaign for the aircraft so we had to self fund that project. It hit our treasury hard and now we need some help to build our treasury back up.
F-111 "Balls 9": Our Aardvark has been rehabilitated and prepped for a new coat of paint, but its account is too low to do that. The B-36 Peacemaker Musuem has taken on the task of raising the funds needed to paint our F-111 "Balls 9." Their goal is $6,000. They are selling memorial bricks to raise those funds. You can download and order form for that below.
Amon Carter's Travel Air 5000: In 1950 Amon Carter, Sr. was awarded the Frank M. Hawkes Memorial Award for his contributions to American aviation. In fact he was praised as “one of the true pioneers of American aviation.”
Prior to 1950 Mr. Carter had a significant role in bringing the Moisant International Aviators and Cal Rodgers with the Vin Fiz to Fort Worth to introduce aviation to our region in 1911. In 1915 he brought the U.S. Army’s First Aero Squadron here as a prelude to the establishment of three Royal Flying Corps bases for aviation training in 1917. Later he helped establish Meacham Field and the beginning of airmail and passenger service in the 1920’s and 30’s. In 1941 his efforts brought Air Force Plant #4 to Fort Worth and began what would become one of the largest aviation business centers in the world, producing over 67,000 aircraft in North Texas since the 1940’s.
The Veterans Memorial Air Park is leading an effort to acquire Mr. Carter’s Travel Air 5000, which was the 787 of its time, as a revolutionary airplane that ignited passenger travel in North America. This airplane is a direct link to Mr. Carter and the oldest known artifact of his aviation legacy. See below for details.
What You Can Do To Help
Help us with our SAVE-A-PLANES
You can buy one of our new shirts in our PX (gift shop) at VMAP PX or clicking on the gift shop link under ABOUT VMAP.
Or you can click on one of the links below to download a flyer or pledge form or click the PayPal DONATE button below and send a donation right away.
But please help us SAVE-A-PLANE.