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On Saturday the 13th of April, 2024, I visited the Legacy Chapter of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation and Museum in Hampton, Ga near Atlanta. I’d been planning this visit for a while, and it greatly exceeded my expectations. I’ve never met a group of more genuine people. Everyone I met there was welcoming, gracious, experienced, and knowledgeable. Barbara Barker took me by the arm, signed me in, and kept a watchful eye over me to ensure I had a great experience.   

I flew in an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter piloted by LtCol (Ret) Peyton DeHart, USMC. We performed maneuvers over a wooded area and lake. One maneuver was a gun run on a bridge at the lake – observe the target with a flyby, sharp pull up, hard bank over, drop down into the run, and pew pew. Incredible pilot who didn't pull any punches as he climbed, dove, and banked throughout the flight, narrating the whole time. Exhilarating and breathtaking!   

I did two lifts in a UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” piloted by Former CPT, Ed Clark, US Army and LTC (Ret) Jim Uttley, US Army. A stoic machine with an iconic sound. Nothing like sitting on the outside seat with an open door when the pilot banks hard to your side :)   The gentleman directly behind me was sitting in the left side door gunner’s seat where he sat in Vietnam. Amazingly, the Atlanta Chapter has one of the Hueys that was in his unit. He told me he received more recognition and appreciation there in one day than he’d received in the last fifty years.   

After the flights, we enjoyed a pizza buffet lunch (actually some of the best pizza I’ve had) where we socialized with the foundation members. After lunch, LTC (Ret) Fred Edwards, US Army and I took the pilot’s seats in one of the Hueys, where he patiently walked me through the preflight checklist and all the controls explaining how to accomplish various maneuvers. For a fleeting moment, I felt like I could pull up on the collective and lift off. An unforgettable experience!   

If you haven’t flown with AAHF, do it now! I can still hear the sound of the Huey’s rotor in my head. Since flying with them, I’ve had three distinct emotions:  joy for having had the experience, regret for not having done it sooner, and anticipation for when I can do it again.   

Cobras and Hueys have been in service since the 1960s and have long been succeeded by Apaches and Blackhawks, respectively. Even though they are immaculately maintained, these old birds may not be around forever. Plan your visit now. Experience history. Why wouldn’t you? I promise you won't regret it. 

Steve Cox