OCEAN CITY – A historical Huey helicopter has arrived to its new home, the Ocean City Municipal Airport, where it will be put on display for all to see.
According to the Ocean City Aviation Association (OCAA), the Huey Memorial will represent more than the Vietnam War. The display is in honor of all who has served in the United States Armed Forces.
OCAA member Tom Oneto said the Huey helicopters were in service for almost 50 years before the fleet was retired this past July. The Huey served all branches of the military and the government.
“It’s symbolic of combat regardless of what part of the service you were in,” he said. “There is just something about it … it’s just an emotional attachment, that’s the only way I can describe it.”
The 48-foot long, including the back rotator blades, Huey was stationed in Indiantown Gap, Pa. and was transferred to Ocean City’s Public Works Department on July 26. Its preparation for display is estimated to take at least three months as it is gutted and restored. The display will stand eight feet in the air on a 20-degree angle.
Oneto said there is a possibility that mechanical students from Worcester Technical High School, Delaware Technical Community College and the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Virginia, will have the opportunity to work on the Huey.
“In addition to classroom instruction, we would provide the essential parts and any material required,” he said. “It would be a good experience.”
The OCAA has been working on getting the helicopter to the airport for some time. At first, OCAA officials had made an agreement with the town in sharing the costs but once resources ran thin the Huey project was postponed.
In November of this year, the OCAA returned to the Mayor and City Council asking to revive the Huey project. It was able to strike a deal that the town would forward fund $8,000 for transportation but it would have to reimburse.
Oneto said at this point in time the town’s loan is not needed due to OCAA’s private fundraising.
“We have been very, very impressed with the donations,” he said. “The city has been great because we used their employees and equipment to pick the helicopter up … they have been very cooperative.”
Oneto said the Huey display will be showcased as an attraction for Ocean City and the airport.
“We want the airport to be part of the community,” he said. “I can’t think of anything better than an attraction to get people out to the airport.”
Oneto said the OCAA has been fortunate because of the time donated by the help of the veteran’s association and all the volunteers who are making the display possible.
“Our membership has been very supportive of this and I would like to compliment them, and thank them really for their continued support,” Oneto said.