Vietnamese-era airplane offering rides to veterans and the public in Orange Beach
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama (WKRG) – As soon as you step aboard a Huey helicopter, it’s something that’s hard to forget. Vietnam veteran Donald Burch knows this feeling all too well.
“The distinctive sound, the way it vibrates so badly. It permeates you, and you can’t get it out. You have a chance to ride one, you’re going to do it, ”said Burch.
For the next few days at Orange Beach, Friends of Army Aviation are offering rides on the old plane, but not the kind of ride you might expect, says pilot and organization president. Doc Holladay.
“The only time you’ll see this plane upright and level is when you’re hovering. The rest of the time it turns and turns, goes up and down. It’s a race of a lifetime, that’s what we love to tell people, ”Holladay said.
It’s been described as a roller coaster ride 2,000 feet in the air, but it’s also something else.
“He’s a healer,” Holladay says. “This plane is healing. It offers a closure for Vietnam veterans and their families. “
“It was awesome,” said Burch after his flight. “Now if we don’t have flashbacks, we’ll be fine. “
“It’s been a long time,” said Joe Collins, still grinning from his flight. “I spent a lot of hours in a Huey sitting in the back where I was sitting and I love it.”
At almost every one of these events, the past and the present come together.
Holladay and Collins were stationed together during the conflict. “He saw my name and said, ‘I know you,’” Holladay said. “It’s incredible.”
It was a 50 year reunion in the making. “I had no idea he was going to be here,” Holladay said. “Me too,” Collins adds. “I’m glad I got to see him after all these years.”
A journey through time and a helicopter ride to rekindle old memories and create new ones.
The Friends of Army Aviation are docked at Orange Beach near the events center. They schedule flights from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 2 and 3. Flights cost $ 70 per person. For more information you can go to their site here.