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Arrival at Falcon Field October 1989

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1 Arrival at Falcon Field October 1989
Hughes OH-6A Cayuse “Charlie Chopper” Arrival at Falcon Field October 1989

2 View of the Loach as it arrived at Falcon Field in October of 1989
View of the Loach as it arrived at Falcon Field in October of No other parts were supplied. This is it! The landing gear had been torn off during the last crash in New Jersey.

3 Another view of the stark bare Loach at Hangar B-3. Dr
Another view of the stark bare Loach at Hangar B-3. Dr. Baron Smith took delivery of this aircraft in 1989 and guided the restoration that took four years This airframe was supplied by the Army as a second fuselage to provide parts for another restoration for the St. Louis Science Center, who had requested a restored static OH-6A for display from MDHC. Charlie Chopper’s origin, and even tail number, was unknown at this time. There was never an intention of restoring this airframe, in fact, it was supposed to have been scrapped upon removal of any useful parts for the other OH-6A!

4 An interesting note is that is was accidentally
determined that this hulk was Charlie Chopper by a former Silver Eagles Pilot, Jim Schoen, who noticed an unusual toggle switch located under the instrument panel that was installed only in Silver Eagles aircraft. He requested to scrape off a bunch of green paint off the nose, saying that there might be a large white number on a blue background. Upon scraping, he found the large #5 on a brilliant blue background. It was at that time that he said that we have something very, very special! If Jim had not stopped by, we were within a week of tossing the remains into a dumpster! Additionally, Jim advised that this aircraft had also been used as a Special Ops Communications bird, due to the unusual radio mounts. Baron C. Smith and Larry Godbout pose with the Loach carcass. Weight of the airframe at this point was approx. 450 lbs.

5 The Loach had a retrofitted wire strike kit, post - 1975
The Loach had a retrofitted wire strike kit, post ,442 loaches were built between 1967 and 1972 in Culver City, California.

6 The seat pans in this photo show a great deal of damage from the oleo struts being broken and driven through the pans, just missing the crewmember’s butt! Approx. 70% of this airframe had to be repaired or replaced during the four-year restoration effort.

7 All glass in the cockpit was either cracked or broken and had to be replaced with new glass during the restoration. This aircraft was initially restored by a large group of McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company employees who volunteered, under the strict direction of Baron Smith, to bring the other OH-6A back to static display status. Upon discovery of the heritage of Charlie Chopper, They continued to assist Baron until the final completion in MDHS was very helpful in providing scrapped parts that could be used in the restoration. At the time, Baron was a senior Training and Development Specialist in Human Resources, instructing and certifying most of the MDHC electricians and mechanics on the AH-64A Apache program.

8 FM homing antenna is clearly shown in this photo
FM homing antenna is clearly shown in this photo. This was the 1,317th Loach built, a Series III “hard-belly”, due to the reinforced structure and larger rivets throughout the assembly process.

9 The Loach came with three original doors, which was very unusual due to most being discarded upon receipt of combat units. Doors weren’t viable in combat and certainly not in hot, muggy weather! Replacement doors for OH-6A’s cost $10,800 each! This aircraft was made available for disposition for disposal by the Army on March 9, 1988.

10 Rear doors still had New Jersey National Air Guard emblems.

11 Cyclic, lateral, and collective control tubes (forming what is known as the “broom closet”), were included with the hulk. Loaches used mechanical controls, not hydraulic-assisted like other similar helicopters. This enhanced survival and dropped weight.

12 All instruments and radios were salvaged by the Army before shipment of Loach. The only clue, at that time, that this was , came from a decal on this instrument panel. The last radio call sign was “Sabre 57”.

13 Area under pilot’s floor showing tremendous damage from crash landing.

14 Engine compartment was relatively intact, although all drive train components were missing.

15 Interior damage shows several gray paint schemes, along with various communications equipment mounts, which confirms that this aircraft was used by Special Operations during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

16 View of badly damaged pilot’s seat pan
View of badly damaged pilot’s seat pan. These had to be replaced during the restoration.

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