US Marine Corps, February 07, 2013 - JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina by Lance Cpl. Manuel A. Estrada - Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter 269 bid fair winds and following seas to the UH-1N Huey as it completely transition to the new up-to-date model UH-1Y Huey, Feb. 5.
The squadron held a “sundown” ceremony for the aircraft to commemorate its final flight with the squadron.
Col. Scott S. Jensen, Marine Aircraft Group 29 commanding officer led a parade formation of two UH-1N Hueys, a UH-1Y Huey, and the Hueys’ flight companion, an AH-1W Cobra, across the sky above Marine Corps Air Station New River.
The UH-1N first came into service in the Marine Corps in 1971 as a replacement for the UH-1E Huey. It is a light-lift helicopter used by the Marine Corps for offensive-air support, utility support, armed escort and airborne supporting arms coordination, said 1st Lt. Benjamin Carlton, HMLA-269 pilot and event narrator.
With more than 40 years of service, it has proven to be one of the most versatile and capable platforms in the Marine Corps. The November model has had an illustrious service life in the Marine Corps that has seen numerous combat operations in places such as Vietnam, Grenada, and Afghanistan as well as countless humanitarian missions around the world.
The November has become an iconic part of Marine Corps aviation, Carlton said.
“The biggest different between the two aircraft is the systems and what is underneath the skin,” said Capt. Gabriel W. Tiggs, HMLA-269 flight line officer-in-charge and UH-1Y pilot. “The helicopters look similar and have the same mission, but the systems are improved.”
He added that the drive train on the Yankee is stronger. Both the Yankee and the November has two engines, but one of the Yankee’s engines is more powerful than both engines in the November.
“The Yankee has twice the number of horsepower and twice the blade which translate into more lift,” said Tiggs. “This means that warfighters can carry more cargo, get to the fight faster and carry more ordnance for close-air support for the Marines on the ground.”
The Yankee is also 85 percent compatible with the new AH-1Z Cobra, which is currently replacing the AH-1W Cobra in the Marines Corps, said Capt. Stephanie Larson, HMLA-269 adjutant.
The similarities of the aircraft allow the Marines to keep replacement parts on hand to quickly repair helicopters while minimizing the volume of parts needed.
“It’s a bittersweet day to see our old November go away,” said Jensen. “It is also an exciting time to see (HMLA-269) achieve success with the Yankees. Since I was a young man, we hoped of replacing the aircraft with better technology, higher quality and better capabilities and this is what we have with the new Yankee.”
The only Marine Corps squadron currently operating the November is HMLA-476 (sic) aboard MCAS Cherry Point. They are currently in process of training their pilots to fly the new helicopter.