Fri, Dec 29, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Ex-military helicopter lands at school

By Lin Kuo-hsia and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Students from Dade Industrial and Commercial Vocational High School in Yunlin County on Tuesday pose for a group photograph with members of the National Airborne Service Corps in front of a Bell UH-1H helicopter at the school.

Photo: Lin Kuo-hsien, Taipei Times

The Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday flew a decommissioned helicopter to a vocational high school in Yunlin County as a gift for the school’s nascent aviation maintenance department.

The Bell UH-1H helicopter with tail number NA-512 was formerly a rescue helicopter of the National Airborne Service Corps (NASC) and was scheduled for decommissioning on the day of the handover.

The helicopter landed on the school’s sports ground at about 11am amid fanfare. Three students handed flowers to the pilot in an arranged ceremony.

“It looks bigger on the ground and has a lot of presence,” a student said.

Aviation plays an important role in the global economy and demand for maintenance technicians is high in Taiwan, Dade Industrial and Commercial Vocational High School principal Tu Chin-chu (涂金助) said.

The school’s Department of Aviation Maintenance is to next year start classes primarily focused on aircraft maintenance, with a secondary focus on aviation, navigation, logistics and aviation material management, he said.

“Having a helicopter as a hands-on educational aid is immensely helpful,” Tu said.

The school is the first in Yulin and Chiayi counties to offer technical training for aviation ground crews, he said, adding that it is developing ties with nearby National Formosa University, which has a graduate program in aviation engineering.

The helicopter will be open for viewing by visitors each school day between 9am and 3:30pm until Jan. 10, Tu said.

NASC Senior Secretary Cheng Wen-tang (鄭問堂) said the helicopter was manufactured in 1976 and served the military until 2002, when it was transferred to the corps for use on disaster relief missions.

“The helicopter has logged 6,613 flight hours and saved 151 lives,” Cheng said. “I am happy to see that it will contribute to the education of bright young technicians after its retirement from rescue operations.”

The UH-1H is a venerable utility helicopter and an estimated 4,000 machines are still in service around the world, Cheng said, adding that NA-512’s parts are reasonably new and would help impart valuable knowledge to technicians-in-training for many years to come, he said.

“An excellent ground crew is the most important factor in aviation safety,” Cheng said.

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