In 1984, 66 pilots who flew the iconic Huey UH-1 in Vietnam founded the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA). This summer the group held their 28th Annual Reunion in the Orlando area to share stories and fellowship. During their week long stay, the group made several outings to the area attractions including a tour of the aviation attractions at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport.
Local veteran helicopter pilot, Tony Robinson, arranged for the group to visit the aviation attractions on Kissimmee Gateway Airport which included Stallion 51 Corporation’s Mustangs, Texans, OV-10 Bronco and L-39. The group also toured the Focke Wulf 190 project located in the WWII Fighter Aircraft Foundation’s restoration museum’s new location in Stallion 51’s hangar.
Vietnam helicopter pilots accumulated more actual combat flight time than any other combat pilots before or since. The Vietnam War was a helicopter war, they performed as taxi drivers, delivery men and gun support. They carried infantry into battle and brought them out. They were their lifeline and supply line as well as their ambulance. “These young men came of age with rotor blades above their heads and bullets flying around them. “ according to past president, Gary Rouse.
The VHPA now has 14,000 members and was founded to remember the approximately 40,000 helicopter pilots who served in Southeast Asia; to keep their history alive and available for the generations to come. In this, they share a common interest and philosophy with both Stallion 51 and the WWII Fighter Aircraft Foundation who restore and fly history.