Restored Vietnam helicopter on display at ASU Gammage for ‘Miss Saigon’

By

Ellie Borst

Blades of rescue in the chaos of war, the flying model of a Huey helicopter in Broadway’s “Miss Saigon” has been leaving audiences in awe for decades — and an authentic Huey helicopter will be in the parking lot of ASU Gammage weeknights during the show's run.

The utility military gunship seen in the show is often seen as a staple of the Vietnam War — and one of the surviving Huey helicopters is housed right here in the Valley of the Sun. A Huey helicopter will be available for show-goers to view from 4 to 7:30 p.m Sept. 24–27 . 

The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum showcases an authentic Bell UH-1 Huey Gunship that served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1971.

Thanks to the Arizona chapter of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation (AAHF), visitors of the museum are able to see a fully restored Huey helicopter with over 100 bullet patches.

AAHF is a national nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to connecting the American soldier to the American family through stories and artifacts.

In 2015, Dave Sale, a member of the Commemorative Air Force and founder of the AAHF’s Arizona chapter, decided to contact AAHF’s hangar in Georgia to work on bringing a Huey helicopter to the Arizona base at Falcon Field.  

“It’s the iconic bird of Vietnam,” Sale said. “People were asking, ‘Where is your Huey?’”

After just a few months, Sale and AAHF were able to locate the first Huey helicopter to bring to Arizona for restoration and to put on display at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum.

Volunteers with AAHF work to obtain, restore and maintain the aircrafts to look not only look like museum quality, but keep in flyable condition. AAHF works to locate veterans who are experienced with the aircrafts to lead groups of volunteers through the restoration and operation process — which includes buffing, repainting and pressure-washing the aircrafts.

While locating and polishing aircrafts is a large part of AAHF, Sale said it is not the organization’s only goal.

“A main priority of ours is to have a place where veterans can share and listen to stories,” Sale said.

Sale spoke about AAHF’s community involvement with students through internship programs and families coming together to understand this crucial moment in U.S. history.

“We want to get our story out about army aviation,” Sale said. “Especially in Vietnam.”

For more information on the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, visit armyav.org or call 770-897-0444. For more information on the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, visit azcaf.org or call 480-924-1940.