American Helicopter Museum

Over the weekend I took a trip to the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, PA. This trip could have been accomplished via car since I was already in the Philly area, but what fun would that be? Instead I took my first ride with my newly certificated friend Matt. We took off from his home base Doylestown Airport (KDYL) in a rented 1973 Cessna 172M. The weather that day was far from perfect but fortunately well within VFR minimums. We were able to complete the short 30nm trip without any problems. I even tried out my new Kodak Zi8 HD video camera and cockpit audio patch cable. The video didn’t turn out too amazing given the viz and has quite a bit of unrelated and possibly inappropriate cockpit banter between two long time pals. I still may pull out a few sections and post it here though.

The museum is located on Brandywine Airport (KOQN). The airport seemed well kept and had one runway which was 3400x50ft. We initially taxied over to the FBO but were instructed to just cross the runway and park right next to the museum. This was actually a car parking area and did not have any tie downs, but it was right next door. At the time of writing this the museum fee for an adult is $7. While the building itself may not seem large, there are many helicopters insides. To see a list of helicopters check this out. Keep reading for the pictures and a few of my favorite aircraft.

Gyrodyne QH-50C


For me one of the coolest helicopters there was an unmanned remote controlled machine called the Gyrodyne. I found it very cool how a technology like this was built so long ago. It is a far cry from the Predator drones we have today but very impressive for the time.

Manufactured in 1964, this remote controlled aircraft was used by the Navy’s DASH (Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter) program. It was controlled from a destroyer and was “flown” by radar to the suspected location of an enemy submarine, where it would drop its torpedo payload. Unfortunately, many of the drones were lost before they made it back to shipboard. Source

V-22 Osprey


BIG. That is the first thing I have to say about this one. It is outside so you can see it as soon as you have the runway in sight. It gets even more impressive as you get closer. I was most impressed by the size of the rotors themselves and the long screws that power the tilting mechanism. The history of the V-22 design and production is quite interesting and you should check it out here.

This prototype tiltrotor aircraft combines the vertical lift capabilities of a helicopter and the high-speed characteristics of a turboprop airplane. The cabin can carry up to 24 troops or 20,000 pounds for short missions. For shipboard operations, the rotor blades fold back along the leading edge of the wing and the wing swivels in-line with the fuselage for compact stowage. The Osprey was designed primarily for Marine Corps amphibious assault missions and Navy combat, search and rescue and other missions. The U.S. Air Force plans to use the V-22 for special operations. The exhibited aircraft is the third of six prototypes. Source

Princeton GEM X-2 Air Scooter


This is an experimental Ground Effect Machine (GEM) from the 1950’s. A nose fan supplied air to the air cushion contained within the peripheral curtain around the 8 ft. diameter platform. Ground Effect Machines are very successful and are used as ferries to carry cars and passengers across the English Channel. Source

Overall I thought the museum was great. It was a perfect alternative to the typical $100 hamburger. For someone like me who does not know much about the rotor world it was also a learning experience. It is also very kid orientated, you can sit in several of the aircraft on display and there is also a play area for the little ones.

Check it out when you get a chance if you are an aviation enthusiast like me you will not be disappointed.

Hudson River Skyline Flight

Today we flew the Hudson River scenic flight.  In the plane was my instructor and future co-pilot Matt. We have been wanting to take a flight with my CFI through the Hudson for a while. If you are unfamiliar with the area there was a recent mid-air that caused a change in the rules for the Class B exclusion corridor. We wanted to see how an old salt handles the airspace before we tried it ourselves.

The exclusion zone is basically an area over the Hudson where they raised the floor of the NY Bravo. They did it to accommodate transient and sightseeing aircraft without necessity of being cleared into the congested airspace above. The new rules essentially raised this airspace by 300ft and now requires mandatory reporting points. You are also required to carry a NY Terminal Area Chart. To learn all of the details I highly recommend checking out the FAA NYC Course.

We departed Caldwell around 10AM. The sky was clear but fairly bumpy with crosswinds on the departure and landing. As soon as leaving the traffic pattern we contacted Teterboro KTEB tower to transit straight across to the Hudson. Fortunately they were not to busy and allowed the transition at 1,100. We then made a right turn into the Hudson and maintained 1,100. The rest of the flight was just as described in the special rules. We did drop down for a counter clockwise turn around the Statue of Liberty. After heading back north we continued to Alpine tower and shot back in for Caldwell. The actual flight was pretty straightforward and uneventful but very fun and the views were excellent. I highly recommend it.

Matt was able to take plenty of pictures during the entire flight so check them out below.

Old Military Jet Wreckage in West Milford, NJ

One of my other hobbies aside from flying is hiking. In particular geocaching. I was recently looking for more caches in the area of West Milford, NJ and came across something I couldn’t resist. It is an old military jet that crashed in the woods more then 40 years ago. One minor problem was the fact that it had snowed the night before so the wreck slightly covered. The cold weather did help getting to the site. It is a very very swampy area and most of the ground was hard and easily walkable.

The Lockheed T2V SeaStar, later called the T-1 SeaStar, was a turbojet trainer aircraft for the U.S. Navy that entered service in May 1957. It was developed from the Lockheed T-33 and powered by one Allison J33 engine. Wikipedia

It was difficult finding a reliable source for the actual history of this wreck. What I have disseminated from a few sites is that the crash was part of a training exercise in 1967 and the pilot survived the crash. Here is some info from another site:

The pilot lived, he actually flew the plane in, from South to North, it is now oriented facing Westerly……A woman in the area, who’s boyfriend at the time was a Police Officer, heard the crash, called Police Officer boyfriend, he hiked in to the site and found the pilot sitting on the wing pretty dazed, but alive…… Now as to the direction of the wreckage… the plane came in from South to North, but the wreckage lies West to East, this is because of when the engine was lifted out by helicopter, there was some entanglement and the entire craft lifted and spun before the engine pulled free of airframe. The orange paint is to mark it as found wreckage of a know crash, to help reduce reports of a sighted crash by other pilots, hikers etc…The engine was airlifted to Greenwood Lake Airport so it could be taken by larger plane to wherever they would take salvage parts, and the helicopter almost crashed from the weight and instablity of the engine load (just a side note). (waymarking)

Update: 5/2017 – I received this comment from a former T2V pilot. Great information regarding this type and this incident. Thank you Tor.

That a/c was indeed a T2V-1 (since it crashed-landed several months before the re-designation to T-1A became official). There has been so much scuttlebutt about this wreck, much of which has been based on “completely wrong guesses” . . .

This one was assigned since 1960 to NAS New York (Floyd Bennett Field) with the BuNo of 142540 – and was aka 7R-540.

Prior to 1960 it was attached to BTG-9 as 2F-XXX

[It can be seen in a photo, second from the bottom of pg 48 in Steve Ginter’s book: “Lockheed T2V-1/T-1A Seastar”- #42 in his Naval Fighter Series]

It was a “Base Flight” plane, and was used as a “flight-time builder” for active duty and (NARTU) Navy/Marine reserve pilots striving to “keep current” in jets.

On 15 July 1962, 7R-540 was on a routine training flight when it flamed out. Fuel starvation was the probable culprit . . . That a/c type was notoriously short legged.

The pilot was apparently unable to activate the ejection seat, so the plane was “dead-sticked” down to the ground near West Milford, NJ.

It was fortunate and unusual that there were no serious injuries/fatalities in this incident, since the T2V-1/T1A possessed the glide rate of a common brick.

I logged a few hours in [at least] 2 T2V-1s, during flight training in NAS Pensacola, about that same time (BuNos 144204 and 144758 in Jul, Aug 1962).

Hope this helps a bit,

Tor Welch