Bell Huey

Cape Town

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Fly the Legend is the notice I saw when walking around the Victoria and Albert Docks in Cape Town, the Legend being the Bell Huey which came to fame during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. I had left Rhodesia before the Rhodesian Air Force acquired a number of these helicopters in the mid to late 1970s, when I saw one flying along the Atlantic Coast of Cape Town I wondered if it had anything to do with the ones sold off by the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

Once booked for my short flight I found out that the hangar belonging to MADIBA AIR and SEA (Pty) Ltd. is based in the Eastern Docks in Cape Town, I got speaking to Mr Wilson Fuba who is a Director and he kindly showed me around the hangar and told me a little of the setup. Inside the hangar were a number of helicopters, several Bell Hueys, a Super Frelon, Alouette 2 and Puma, all ex SAAF. (South Africa Air Force). Some of the Bell Hueys were indeed ex Rhodesian, rescued from Lanseria Airport where they had been sitting for some time.

As it happens I had seen some of the same batch in the UK some years ago which had been acquired by a pilot living in Oxford. I seem to remember that they had recovered three to the UK which had been refurbished. The rest had been left in South Africa. The only ex Rhodesian Huey which was pointed out to me was ZU-UHI but there were several others. I have found this record of this aircraft:

22405 (c/n 13729) to EAF775 (Ethiopian AF?). Stripped forward fuselage noted at Solitude, South Africa Feb. 10, 2002 bearing registration ZU-DUP (believed false) Registered ZU-UHI Sep 2, 2005 to Helibase P/L of Culemborg, South Africa Now ZU-UHI is complete and airworthy. I am not certain that this is an old Rhodesian aircraft though.

The Huey flight was in ZU-CVC which I was told had served with the USAF in Cambodia before returning to the USA where it was overhauled and then went to the Ethiopean Air Force before being recovered to South Africa. Although short the flight itself was fantastic, the doors open offering good views to enjoy the scenery and even the sight of whales, (Southern Right Whales) swimming off Cape Town in Table Bay. In my time the whales were rare and only came into Table Bay at certain times of the year, now that there are many more as they are not being hunted to the point of extinction, it seems some live around Cape Town all the year. The flight was so good I returned the following day for another!

I was very impressed with the company, go to www.helibase.com for more information. Fly the Legend!