~~HH-34J NEWS UPDATE~~

OCTOBER 2015


Felix McLarney Got this sketch and update from the curator of the Pacific Air Museum. He advises they will continue the AF livery as opposed to going to either Navy or Army.



The following photos are from the Pacific Air Museum website.

http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/aircraft/HH34J


~CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE~



HH-34J #148963 enroute to

Pacific Aviation Museum



HH-34J #148963 enroute to

Pacific Aviation Museum



HH-34J #148963 enroute to

Pacific Aviation Museum



HH-34J #148963 on display at

Pacific Aviation Museum



HH-34J #148963 on display at

Pacific Aviation Museum


~CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE~



~~HH-34J NEWS UPDATE~~

EARLY 2015


It has been noted in several news accounts that the Museum of Aviation in Warner - Robbins, GA. will be reducing the number of aircraft they maintain on display. As part of the reduction HH-34J #148963 is being transferred to the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii. HH-34J #148963 served with the 301st and 304th ARRS.

 

We believe that #148963 will be displayed at the Pacific Aviation Museum as a U.S. Navy or Marine Corps helicopter. This helicopter was originally delivered to the U.S. Navy as a HSS-1N and was re-designated as a SH-34J in October 1962. In 1971 it was transferred to the U.S. Air Force and re-designated as a HH-34J.


~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~

 


HH-34J # 148963, at Musuem of Aviation, prepared for

shipment to Pacific Aviation Musuem.

(Air Classic Magazine photo)



AIR FORCE RESERVE


HH-34J Choctaw

Ex-USN SH-34s operated by the US Air Force



Interesting side note: The Sikorsky S-58 was developed from the Sikorsky's UH-19 Chickasaw. The aircraft first flew on March 8, 1954. It was initially designated HSS-1 Seabat (in its anti-submarine configuration) and HUS-1 Seahorse (in its utility transport configuration) under the US Navy designation system. Under the US Army's system, also used by the fledgling US Air Force, the helicopter was designated H-34. The US Army applied the name Choctaw to the helicopter. In 1962, under the new unified system, the Seabat was redesignated SH-34, the Seahorse as the UH-34, and the Choctaw as the CH-34.

 

It is difficult to understand and somewhat amusing that the AFRES HH-34Js were officially named the "Choctaw" when in fact they were formerly US Navy SH-34J "Seabats" that had the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) equipment removed for AFRES use as Air Force Air Rescue aircraft.

 

 

The pictures below are the property of Ron Olsen.  Ron has been so kind to allow USAF ROTORHEADS to use his great photos of the HH-34J on our website, assisting us with our goal of documenting and preserving Air Force helicopter history.  Ron lived in Portland from 1965 to 1978 and captured these great shots of several of the 304th ARRS aircraft during that time.  To see many additional aircraft photos check Ron's website at ronsarchive.com  A special thanks to Ron.



      RON OLSEN PHOTOS

HH-34J 143885 20 JUL 71

CLICK ON SMALL BOX TO LEFT TO PAUSE/ CLICK TO RESTART



The use of HH-34J's by the Air Force was virtually unknown except by the members of the AFRES organizations the HH-34J's were assigned to.  USAF ROTORHEADS discovered an Air Force Air Rescue HH-34J aircraft on display at the Hill AFB Museum.  As the result of this discovery Mr. Sid Nanson, our Aviation Historian, was contacted for information.  Sid has done extensive research on the H-34 for the Marines.  

 

Sid informed us the USAF did not begin to operate HH-34J's until after the production line had ceased. It was the last branch of American service to operate them and also the last to fly them. Sid provided the pictures located at the end of this page.

 

 

Sid provided the below quote from Mr. Lennart Lundh's book, "Sikorsky H-34, an illustrated history".

 

Designated HH-34Js, the Air Force examples were really ex US Navy SH-34Js taken from storage and stripped of their anti-submarine warfare (ASW) equipment. These served in the AF Reserve (AFRES) from June 1971 to June 1974. The 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS) operated from Homestead AFB, Florida. In addition to SAR work, the 301st ARRS performed Presidential missions and provided security services for NASA at Cape Kennedy. The 302nd ARRS was based at Luke AFB, Arizona. The international airport at Portland, Oregon, was home for the 304th ARRS

 

The AFRES HH-34Js were transitional aircraft, filling the gap left by the retirement of the Grumman HU-16 Albatross amphibian and the needs of the Vietnam War. The squadrons assigned them never carried complements of more than nine. The 301st ARRS didn't fly their first mission with one until more than two months after its receipt. At times they were forced to place aircraft in storage because there were no trained air or ground crews available to use them. By the time parts procurement problems, training and personnel requirements had been sorted out, the HH-34Js were scheduled for replacement by HH-1Hs and HH-3Es, to begin in January 1974.

 

By June, 1974, all HH-34Js had been sent to Davis-Monthan AFB for storage. From there, many eventually went to the civil market or to base museums. Never more than a brief footnote in Air Force history, most inventory and assignment records for the HH-34J's disappeared shortly after they had left service. Even Sikorsky's publicity sheet on their helicopters in Air Force service, fails to list the Choctaw.

 


LT. Col. Barnard AFRES (Retired) (former 304th ARRS Commander) stated AFRES originally had targeted four of the five HU-16 units for conversion to the HH-34J.  The 301st, 302nd, 304th and 305th ARRS were all to have 8 UE each, and the number 32 filled that requirement.  It is believed that 26 of the aircraft were removed from storage and the remaining 6 came from the Navy straight to NARF Pensacola for modification. 

 

The 305th ARRS was removed from that plan, going instead to HC-97's, but the timing of that change did not alter the H-34's from being transferred to AFRES.  LT. Col. Barnard AFRES (Retired) confirmed that a pilot school program did not exist and that the crews got all of their HH-34J training at home station. The lesser known fact that the 305th ARRS dropped out of the picture so early on, never receiving any HH-34J's, helps to explain why looking back at only 3 units was creating so much difficulty in identifying what the fleet size was and how it came to be.
 

It is believed that all 32 helicopters were modified to the HH-34J configuration and were accepted by the three AFRES Rescue Squadrons.  This may explain why some of the helicopters were placed in storage due to the lack of trained air and/or ground crews to adequately utilize the additional assigned aircraft.  Due to various reasons aircraft were transfered between units, therefore making it difficult to ID a tail number to a specific unit.



 

304TH ARRS





A PORTION OF THE HISTORY

 

OF THE 304TH ARRS


PERTAINING TO THE


HH-34J HELICOPTERS







TRANSITIONAL AIRCRAFT FROM THE

HU-16 TO THE HH-1H


EARLY VERSION OF PATCH

DESIGNED BY LT. BRADFORD RIORDAN

AS A RESULT OF ENTERING

THE ROTARY WING ERA

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY


 

During the era of the HH-34J's, Mr. Felix J. McLarney was the squadron First Sergeant for the 304th ARRS. Felix was kind enough to provide the following historical information and pictures for use on our website.  This serves two purposes, (1) Helps to ensure the 304th ARRS is recognized for posterity for its use of the HH-34J helicopters, (2) Provides USAF ROTORHEADS with a little known, but important part of our rich history. 

 


ARRIVAL OF 1ST HH-34J

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


The 304th ARRS Commander and other senior members of the unit realized the transition from the HU-16 to the HH-34J was going to be a monumental task requiring a maximum effort on the part of each and every member of the unit.  All the hard work came to fruition four months after the receipt of the last aircraft when the unit attained a C-3 combat readiness status. The conversion from fixed to rotorary wing resulted in many problems at all level of command.

Of special interest is the fact that the 304th ARRS was the first Air Force unit, active or reserve, to have flown this ex Navy ASW aircraft as an Air Force Air Rescue aircraft.  With considerable pride they came to realize that while they were the second unit to take delivery of its initial knocked down depot modified HH-34J's they were the first to reassemble, test fly, report all 10 aircraft as operational, and achieve mission ready status of its 12 assigned aircrews. 

 

 

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~

Probably the major problem was the lack of specific information on the reliability of the HH-34J and requirements for its logistic support.  To clarify some of the problem areas and acquire first hand information of the reliability and capability of the system an exercise plan was developed. (Read a MAC Flyer article on this one of a kind, unique exercise and the numerous obstacles the 304th ARRS had to overcome in order to successfully accomplish the exercise ).

 

Commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Barnard, this was to be a real cross country deployment mission as opposed to the months of dogged transition training. It was selected to both reward the unit personnel for their high intensity transition efforts and to visually present to Western Air Force Reserve Region Headquarters at Hamilton AFB the units return to full operational status.

 

Upon contacting Hamilton Approach Control Lt. Col. Barnard who was the flight commander reported in as a flight of 8.  The HH-34J was new to the Air Force and eight HH-34J's in formation was an uncommon sight at Hamilton, which gave rise to the photograph in the MAC Flyer.  Arriving in trail formation, demonstration team style, all aircraft landed at the same time, taxied in trail formation and completed a team type shutdown by stopping all of their rotors in unison using the rotor brake system. The transient ramp at Hamilton was not wide enough to line up all 8 aircraft in a single line.  Aircraft #8  is not visible in the photo below as it had to park in a second row.

 

This entire effort was a product of unit pride, unofficial competition between sister units, inter-service cooperation, and the can-do effort to get the best out of what was available as achieved by many in the military reserves. 

 

By way of example, in this particular flight all of the aircraft were Navy Fleet Reserve, all of the Air Force Reserve HU-16 pilots were re-trained to rotary wing by the Army at Ft. Rucker. Lt Col Barnard had been a Navy Reserve P-2V Pilot when he first entered the AF Reserve and flew C-119's.  Major Bruce Wood had been a Marine Reserve H-34 instructor pilot.  When learning that the AF was converting to the HH-34J he transferred to the unit, was hired as the full time Air Reserve Technician maintenance officer, flew all of the initial test flights following receipt from the depot, and became the units first HH-34J instructor pilot.

 

It isn't unusual to find disparity in aircraft records such as the above references to "never exceeding compliments of 9" and the MAC Flyer article which reflects the unit had "10 UE with 2 extra support".   The important number for the 304th ARRS at the time was "UE" (unit equipped) aircraft and that was 8.  Mr.  McLarney believes the unit may have taken delivery of the "extra's" because the other units were not ready to receive them.  If that had come from any official command instruction he has no recollection.  

 

The 304th ARRS was fortunate the aircraft conversion did not result in a large loss of non-flying positions.  The majority of its experienced aircraft maintenance staff was retained, and following retraining on the H-34 at Sheppard AFB all continued to serve in Portland. Their skill, together with Bruce Wood's experience and flight qualifications, combined to rapidly bring the depot modified birds into operational status.


Note: Mr. Felix J. McLarney stated that aircraft 148493 was transferred to the 302nd ARRS and later Hill AFB Museum.  Aircraft 145710 was transferred to the 301st ARRS and later transferred to the LA Sheriff.  Aircraft 145710 was seen in several of the "Cops" TV episodes all painted up in LA's green and gold livery.  Later the 304th ARRS was tasked to transfer Aircraft 148013 to the LA Sheriff but it experienced an in flight emergency involuntary hard over.   The crew side slipped the aircraft, righting it before they turned completely over, and remained airborne.  However, before they could trouble shoot the problem a second involuntary hard over occurred and they proceeded to auto rotate and side slip down to a successful emergency landing.  Fortunately the 3 crewmen sustained no injuries.

 

Aircraft 148013

 

Aircraft 148013


The above pictures were taken at the emergency landing site in Northern California.  It is in the boonies, among small trees, some of which were cut off by the main rotor blades.  The involuntary flight control input and blade strikes exceeded the normal en route unscheduled maintenance the flight mechanic could perform. As the aircraft was being transferred from the military a decision was made not to make repairs and it was turned over to Beale AFB, CA. for disposal action. The unit had maintenance people go down to assist the Beale personnel put 148013 on a truck and transport it to the base. DRMO at Beale AFB, CA. took possession.



HH-34J Serial Numbers (tail numbers)

(Provided by Mr. Felix McLarney)


USAF HH-34J (Navy Bureau Number Series) for the 32 H-34's that were transferred from the U. S. Navy and modified for use by three USAF Reserve units. Where known, the USAF units of assignment and disposition are indicated.

 

This summary reflects that the 304th ARRS received fifteen (15) aircraft directly from depot overhaul, reassembling, test flying and maintaining all in operational status. Five (5) of these were later transferred to sister units as they progressed through their transition training - two (2) to the 301st ARRS and three (3) to the 302nd ARRS. The 301st ARRS operated a total of eleven (11) aircraft and the 304th ARRS had a permanent fleet of ten (10) aircraft (note: fleet numbers for the 301st ARRS and 304th ARRS are confirmed by official assignment and/or utilization records. This places 143865 and 148025 at the 302nd ARRS bringing their fleet total to eleven (11) which matches it with CONAC assigning that same number to the 301st ARRS. Continuing to research for these two official service transfer records). The fleet total of thirty two (32) aircraft agrees with initial AF official news release information about the equipment change for the reserve rescue squadrons.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

143865 (believed to 302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC.


143885 (304th ARRS) sent to AMARC, purchased by Moore Aviation (civil registry unkn), then to Thai civil fleet (registry unkn).


143936 (304th ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N62292.


145678 (302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N9032F.


145693 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N70709.


145707 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to Costa Rica as TP-SPI.


145710 (304th & 301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to LA County Sherriff's Dept. civil registry as N87716, purchased by Heli-Flite, finally to paint ball range in AZ.


147999 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N46921.


148008 (304th ARRS) sent to AMARC, then transferred to the Tennessee Valley Authority as N90822, purchased by Doan Helicopter, finally to Jack's Government Surplus in AZ.


148011 (302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to LA County Sherriff's Dept. civil registry as N87717. Seen stored at Corona Municipal Apt, CA in 2005.


148013 (304th ARRS) experienced hard over forced landing enroute to LA County Sheriff's Dept., Beale AFB assisted with recovery, no further military record, Beale AFB, CA. DRMO completed disposition.


148014 (304th & 302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N62293 with Maryland State Police.


148019 (302th ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N611PD.


148021 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N51803.


148023 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC.


148025 (believed to 302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC.


148027 (304th ARRS) crashed into Columbia River during night PJ water recovery training. PJ's refloated it and unit returned it to base for investigation. IP did

not catch student descent rate in time. Night over water contributed due to impaired depth perception. Turned over to Defense Reutilization & Marketing at Ft Lewis, WA. 1st accident in 14.5 years of flying.


148028 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to LA County Sherriff's Dept. civil registry as N87718.


148029 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC.


148934 (304th ARRS) then to the Environmental Protection Agency with civil registry as N87934.


148936 (304th ARRS) now located at World Aircraft Museum, Mercer APT., GA.


148938 (302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to National Atomic Museum, Kirtland AFB, NM., transferred to AF Rescue School Museum, Holloman AFB, NM.


148941 (301st) sent to AMARC.


148942 (304th & 302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then purchased by Harral Helicopter with civil registry as N942HH. Hulk seen in farmer's field in Saskatchewan, Canada where it was trucked for use in a paintball course.


148943 (304th & 302nd ARRS) then to Luke AFB, AZ. Musem, then to the Hill AFB Museum, UT. and now located at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, CA.


148944 (301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N944HH. Hulk seen in farmer's field in Saskatchewan, Canada where it was trucked for use in a paintball course.


148948 (304th ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to civil registry as N948HH. Hulk seen in farmer's field in Saskatchewan, Canada where it was trucked for use in a paintball course.


148953 (302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then MAP.


148954 (304th ARRS) sent to AMARC  then to the Environmental Protection Agency with civil registry as N95954, then purchased by St. Louis Helicopter, then to Globe Air.


148957 (302nd ARRS) sent to AMARC, then MAP to Costa Rica as TP-SPJ.


148958 (304th ARRS) sent to AMARC, then to the Environmental Protection Agency with civil registry as N95958.


148963 (304th & 301st ARRS) sent to AMARC, was located at the Warner Robins AFB Museum, in USAF markings but has now (2014) been transfered to the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii where it will be put on display as a USN or USMC aircraft.


Disposition Information from Mr. Felix McLarney, the book Sikorsky H-34: An Illistrated History", by Lennart Lundh & Joseph F. Baugher's military aircraft serial number website 


 

HAMILTON AFB, DUE TO RAMP SPACE 8TH AIRCRAFT IS NOT VISIBLE / COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY



FROM THE AIR RESERVIST MAGAZINE/COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY



The center aircraft (148493) is now at the

Hill AFB, UT. Museum. Aircraft transfered from

304th to 302nd then to the museum.

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


Lt Colonel Barnard and Major Wood in 145710.  Col Barnard is the

closest to the camera.

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~

145710 Lifting Off

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~

 

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY


   The first AF reserve rescue unit - and the only unit in Oregon - to be designated a Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST) unit.  In the late 70's the closest military unit with that designation was the Army Aviation Battalion at Ft Lewis' Hunter Field in WA.    

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~

Taken at a State of Oregon's Sheriff's

conference on Search and Rescue. 

The Army Guard was hosting at their

Camp Rilea which is located between the

cities of Astoria and Seaside.

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


State of Oregon's Sheriff's conference on Search and Rescue. 


The 304th ARRS was in the early stages of informing the Sheriff's of their new capabilities which immensely increased their requesting the 304th ARRS's help with civilian rescues.  With all of the outdoor recreation possibilities in the Pacific Northwest folks were getting into trouble at all times of the year.  The sheriff's began to call the 304th ARRS directly as opposed to the existing military/civilian rescue guidelines which required civil authority to contact the Western Rescue Center at Hamilton AFB first.  The Hamilton folks would then assign the mission to the unit who could best respond.  There was no better way for the 304th ARRS to become expert in its mission than having real rescues coming at frequent intervals.

 



 

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

 

Notice the two different styles of main gear assemblies.  There was a "straight"  leg (front left aircraft) and a "bent" leg (2nd aircraft on left) which didn't impact the mission to any extent, but the takeoff, landing, and taxi phases called for different handling conditions. 

 

The difference in the main landing gear........... The earlier aircraft had what was called the "Bent-leg" gear... this was a single "bent" strut, mounted in a sleeve bearing, allowing for "smoother (?)" landings.  There was too much movement on set-down, as the fuselage moved forward a bit as the collective was lowered and the entire weight was settled which was prone to help develop ground resonance .


The later aircraft had the "V-leg" or "straight" leg gear, which gave better stability on landing. 


Center of Gravity also varied between the Helicopters due to location of these various components.
 


~CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE~


 

LT COL BARNARD NEAR SIDE/MAJ WOOD FAR SIDE NOTE: HH-34J STENCIL BELOW WINDOW

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY


COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~



304TH ARRS FACILITIES

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


Portland International Airport terminal

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


MT. ST. HELENS VISIBLE PRIOR TO ERUPTION

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


304TH ARRS PARKING RAMP

COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY

~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


~CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE~


 

There are other locations within this website containing information related to this page.  To facilitate locating them, links are placed below. Click on link to read.


            304th ARRS Mt. St. Helens eruption rescue effort


        AFRES/Unit patches


        304th ARRS unit history



~CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE~



HH-34J 148943 ON DISPLAY HILL AFB

PHOTO COURTESY OF SID NANSON


HH-34J 148936

PHOTO COURTESY OF SID NANSON


HH-34J 148948 STORAGE

PHOTO COURTESY OF SID NANSON

THE 304TH ARRS HAD 148963 FOR A TIME

TRANSFERRED TO 301ST ARRS THEN LATER

TO WARNER ROBBINS AFB GA MUSEUM

PHOTO COURTESY OF SID NANSON



HH-34J's in Bone Yard.

l-r #148948, #148942 & #148944

PHOTO COURTESY OF FELIX McLARNEY



~CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE~



    



"FREEDOM ISN'T FREE"

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"HELICOPTERS" - THE ONLY WAY TO FLY


~NEVER FORGOTTEN~