Kick back with a 1950s US Army training film on how to fly a Sikorsky H-19. What better way to spend 25 minutes on a spring Friday afternoon?
The radial engine beast was a mainstay of military and civil rotary wing aviation in the 1950s and ‘60s. It was developed into the H-34 and the turbine-powered Westland Wessex, as used by the Royal Australian Navy from the 1960s to the ‘80s.
The H-19 carried its two pilots and ten passengers into the air with thrust from a 22-litre, 600 hp, Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine. Cruising speed was an unhurried 74 knots, (36 knots slower than a Robinson R44), but the H-19, named the Chickasaw in the US Army’s scheme of native American tribal names for its rotary-wing fleet, was among the first practical single-rotor utility helicopters.
The safety message in this, admittedly leisurely, 25-minute production is that all pilots (and engineers) would do well to be as thorough in their inspections and checklists as the starched, crew-cut and slightly self-conscious army pilot in the video. Radial engine helicopters are history, but the fundamentals of airmanship don’t—and shouldn’t—change.