An ex-military Bell UH-1B “Huey” helicopter crashed yesterday evening (June 22) by a rural roadside near its home base at Logan County Airport (code 6L4) in West Virginia. All six on board were killed. Few details are available, but local law enforcement reported that the cockpit and cabin were consumed by post-crash fire.
According to FAA records, the helicopter, N98F, is registered to a local cardiologist. It was operated by maintenance provider Marpat Aviation based at Logan County Airport. The veteran helicopter was participating in this week’s 7th Annual Huey Reunion, and the Marpat website offered 30-minute rides, including the chance to operate the controls, for fuel donations. Mike Holbrook, owner of Marpat, declined to comment to AVweb, referring questions to the NTSB. A woman who witnessed the crash told television reporters she saw what she presumed to be fuel streaming from the cabin and tried to approach the burning helicopter to help, but the intense heat forced her to retreat.
According to the Marpat website description, the UH-1B was likely the oldest Huey still flying, the 488th of more than 10,000 built. It was manufactured in 1962, even before the original military designation changed from HU-1 (thus, the “Huey” nickname) to UH-1 when the 932nd was delivered from the factory.
N89F, then bearing the military serial number 62-01968, served in Vinh Long, Vietnam, with the 114th Assault Helicopter Company, the “Knights of the Sky,” and bore the nose-art “Miss Fit.” Its wartime duties included gunship, troop carrier and medevac service. After being returned to the U.S. in 1971, it subsequently served in the National Guard before working as an agricultural aircraft, firefighter and before the cameras of several feature films, including “Die Hard,” “The Rock” and “Broken Arrow.”
The FAA and NTSB are currently investigating the accident.