Vintage helicopter video: a model of thoroughness

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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.

4 COMMENTS

  1. An interesting view of what is what like back in the day, however appears very basic.
    Only one thing has me curious…
    Why apply the rotor brake with 1 blade in the forward position?

  2. It’s called “Dressing the blades” Its making the chopper look neat. . My CFI taught me that. He was ex millitary and a bit old school when it came to airmanship. Like a soldier making his bed.. Its the little things that show self dicipline and pride in your work… A good attribute in a pilot.

  3. However it ensures no blade is over the engine exhaust when starting and therefore prevents any possible heat damage to the main rotor blades

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