Saturday 27 February a group of aviation enthusiast visited the base of the Huey Display team, based in Preston. This was the first night shoot of its kind. The hanger is home to the Huey UH-1H and Hughes Loach OH-6A Helicopters, both of which are restored Vietnam veterans.
The owner and managing director of MSS Holding, Phil Connolly hosted the event.
The Huey UH-1H is a regular on the UK airshow circuit along with the Loach. As you enter the hanger you see two pristine machines, around them are parts, memorabilia, historic facts, historic vehicles, the workshop and shop.
The Bell Helicopter Company produced the UH-1H in 1972, and it was purchased by the US Army in the same year where it served in Vietnam until 1973. This particular aircraft has been restored back to Vietnam combat livery as it would have appeared with the 129 Assault Helicopter Company. It is the only Huey flying in Europe that saw action in Vietnam.
The Loach OH-6A 69-16011 was manufactured in 1969 and came off the production line of the Hughes Tool Company. The aircraft went into action in Vietnam where it served in the 20th Transport Company. This actual helicopter came under fire during a reconnaissance mission in South Vietnam and took 11 hits from small arms and automatic weapons. One crew member was injured in this skirmish. The helicopter went on to serve various roles during its service, in 2008 the restoration project saw it return to it Vietnam livery.
The night shoot gave us the opportunity to see the aircraft up close before Phil began his engine runs, allowing photographers to photograph the two aircraft from numerous positions in different lighting conditions.
The restoration of both helicopters is fantastic with attention to detail at the highest standard. The chance to see these aircraft at their home base is not to be missed, it is hoped that a further events will take place in November 2016.
Phil also has an AH-1 Cobra in the pipeline; to see the three of these machines will certainly be a sight to behold, I for one will be waiting.
Phil later gave a very broad interview in which he discussed the recent events with the UK CAA, the airshow season for 2016 and what the future may hold for MSS Holdings. You can view the interview in the below video.
Jim Lucas is an aviation photographer who runs the website lucasaviationphotography.co.uk.