HH-46E ‘Phrog’ Hops to California Helo Museum

August 8, 2016 | Author: Mark DiCiero

World Helicopter Day is just around the bend. Honeywell employee Mark DiCiero, founder of the Classic Rotors helicopter museum, talks about the museum’s latest acquisition.

The Boeing Vertol H-46 entered service with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps back in the early 1960s. Its official name was the “Sea Knight,” but it will forever be known as the “Phrog.” Legend says that a Marine pilot gave it that name because he thought that the helicopter, perched on the runway, looked like a frog getting ready to jump. The name just stuck.

It’s a funny name for a helicopter with a serious resume and a history of mission success that dates back to the Vietnam War. For more than 50 years, the Phrog was on the front lines transporting troops, delivering critical supplies, rescuing wounded service members and flying humanitarian missions in every corner of the world.

Several years ago, the Navy and Marine Corps began the process of decommissioning the remaining H-46s in their fleets. Most were snatched up by other government agencies and foreign governments. But when all was said and done, the U.S. government decided to donate a few helicopters to recognized aviation museums – including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

At Classic Rotors, we were fortunate enough in February to receive a HH-46E – the search and rescue version of the H-46 – for display at our museum in Ramona, Calif. Even though we’re a very small museum, we were selected to receive one of the last four HH-46Es that were operating out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. One of the main reasons we were chosen was because we have the world’s most complete collection of tandem-rotor helicopters and the Phrog would make a great addition to our collection.

Boeing Vertol H-46

Other HH-46E recipients hired someone to ferry their helicopters from Cherry Point to their facilities. Classic Rotors volunteers Howard Northrup, Chip Lancaster and Joe Gwizdak couldn’t wait to get their hands on the controls. They flew our vintage helicopter from North Carolina to Southern California themselves, with Howard as aircraft commander, Chip as copilot and Joe as crew chief.

They worked on the aircraft for five days to get it ready for an FAA inspection and we were delighted when the HH-46E passed muster and was issued a ferry permit. Since the helicopter had been stripped of its military avionics, they faced the challenge of flying “old school,” without a radio and with just an iPad and GPS app for navigation aids. OK, I’ll admit that using an iPad is not exactly “old school!”

As a result, the guys could only fly during daylight hours. They had to avoid terminal-control airspace and refuel at uncontrolled airports. And they could only fly the Phrog on short hops of 2-3 hours. But after three days of three legs per day, our new prize arrived safely in San Diego. The flight went off without a hitch, unless you want to count a couple of conversations on a Sunday with a very confused credit-card service rep who couldn’t understand why we were spending so much on fuel!

Since the helicopter arrived at the museum in March, we’ve been doing some minor maintenance to get it ready for its airworthiness inspection. It’s already on display and, if you’re in the neighborhood, we’d love to have you come by and take a look at the latest addition to our collection.

Mark DiCiero is an applications engineer with Honeywell Aerospace, based in Poway, Calif. He works closely with Honeywell customers to improve the safety and operational efficiency of their helicopters using the Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS). Last year he wrote about his passion for helicopters and the Classic Rotors museum.

See pictures of the journey here:

HH-46 ‘Phrog’ Hops to California Helo Museum
Mark Di Ciero

Mark DiCiero

Mark DiCiero is an applications engineer with Honeywell Aerospace, based in Poway, Calif. He works closely with Honeywell customers to improve the safety and operational efficiency of their helicopters using the Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS). He also is founder of the Classic Rotors helicopter museum.

Get the Latest News

Want to get all the latest news via our newsletters subscriptions? Subscribe now; all it takes is an email address.

Comments

 
 
   
  • Barbara Adams

    Another Aerospace colleague from APAC and I had the opportunity to enjoy a personal tour at Classic Rotors several years ago. What Mark has accomplished -- beyond astounding! As a former Army Aviator -- incredibly interesting -- not enough time to take it all in. I hope to return in the future and highly recommend a visit for anyone in the area!

    Reply
  • Ramki

    Great addition with lots of history, to your collection. Wishing you more. Regards.

    Reply
  • Iain Ronis

    Mark- Great blog entry! It must be exciting to add a new exhibit to the museum that actually flies in. Will it be on permanent display inside or will it be kept flyable for the time-being?

    Reply