The World's Best Pickup Truck
A mainstay of air transportation, the Huey provided the soundtrack to the Vietnam War.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- AirSpaceMag.com, August 25, 2011
Lt. Col. S.F. Watson (U.S. Army) Collection/NASM.
The 204, briefly labeled the H-40 before becoming the HU-1 (for Helicopter, Utility, Model 1), was designed by engineering genius Bartram Kelley, who joined Bell Aircraft Company in 1941, and became chief engineer of the helicopter division a few years later.
Kelley's diaries and engineering notebooks (nearly 50 in all) are part of the National Air and Space Museum's archives. When Kelley received the Alexander Klemin Award from the American Helicopter Society in 1955, he wrote in his diary: "Recently a group of us had the good fortune to be guests of the United States Navy aboard a small carrier at sea for 8 days. There were no airplanes, but there were 17 helicopters.... We were all of us constantly on deck throughout the 8 days to see the flight activities, and closely watched every take-off & landing, hour after hour. One of the sailors happened to notice my concentrated interest, and finally said to me: 'What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen helicopters before?' I could think of nothing better to answer than—'No, I haven't!' It would have been impossible to explain to him that after 15 years the novelty has not worn off, & that I will probably never tire of watching any helicopter take off at sea or on land."
Above: Three Bell UH-1 Iroquois landing or taking off in Vietnam, circa late 1960s/early 1970s.