OCEAN CITY — The Vietnam-era Huey helicopter erected in 2011 as part of a permanent memorial and display at the Ocean City Municipal Airport in West Ocean City was damaged during last week’s severe storm and now needs a little help from the community for repair.
The decades-old Huey helicopter was mounted at the airport in 2011 after the Ocean City Aviation Association (OCAA) was able to secure the relic of a bygone era in military aviation. The Huey helicopters were in service for nearly 50 years and served all branches of the armed services and the government before the fleet was retired in 2011.
The Huey helicopters gained their fame during the Vietnam War, and one became available for display after the fleet was retired in 2011. The OCAA jumped at the chance to obtain one for permanent display as part of a memorial at the Ocean City Airport. While the helicopter and the associated memorial at the airport represent the Vietnam War, the display is in honor of all who have served in the armed forces.
The helicopter is 48 feet long including the back rotor blades. It had been stationed in Indiantown Gap, Pa. before being transferred to the Ocean City Public Works Department in July 2011. Later that fall, it was mounted near the entrance to the airport in West Ocean City as part of a permanent memorial. The helicopter is mounted eight feet in the air on a 20-degree angle with its large overhead rotors secured with cables.
However, during last week’s severe storm, which ravaged the resort area with high winds, flooding and power outages, the cables snapped, allowing the rotors to spin unsecured. OCAA President Ton Oneto on Wednesday explained the damage to the Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) and appealed to the business community for financial help to make the necessary repairs.
“The high winds from our recent storm took their toll on the Huey, snapping the restraining cables on both rotor blades,” he said. “We will have to bite the bullet and modify the existing system to avoid future occurrences of this kind.”
Oneto explained the expense of repairing or modifying the cables, combined with the OCAA’s share of the final touches on the display’s landscaping, plaque and mount have the organization reaching out to the community for help. While no formal estimates have been obtained, the repairs and additions are expected to cost around $1,600.
“The last wind storm did some damage and we need a little help repairing that,” he told EDC members. “Any help you folks can give us will be appreciated.”
Contributions can be mailed to the OCAA Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 4355, Ocean City, Md. 21843-4355. Questions can be referred to Oneto at 410-641-6888.