BRUNSWICK — The Maine Forest Service’s UH-1H Huey helicopter may not be as big or as fast as the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53 Super Stallion cargo helicopter, but it drew a crowd of admirers at the Great State of Maine Air Show in Brunswick, where both aircraft were on display Saturday.
While the Super Stallion can carry up to 55 troops and cruise at 173 mph, the Huey, which reaches a cruising speed of 127 mph and can carry about 15 people, has its own allure, said John Crowley, a ranger with the Maine Forest Service.
“They are an iconic symbol of the Vietnam War,” Crowley said.
About 7,000 Hueys were deployed during the Vietnam War, when they were used as a general utility aircraft and for medical evacuations.
The Huey was one of more than a dozen aircraft on display at the air show, which continues Sunday at the Brunswick Executive Airport. More than 50,000 people were expected to attend the two-day show, which includes appearances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels precision flying team, the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Jump Team, the U.S. Marine Corps C-130 Fat Albert airlifter and other attractions.
The event takes place every other year and draws hard-core fans of state-of-the-art military aircraft and ear-splitting aeronautical displays.
Mary Greenlaw of Gray brought her grandson, Preston Caron, 8, of Dayton to see the show. She said they are both fascinated by airplanes.
“I have taken about 20 hours of flying lessons,” Greenlaw said.
Some attendees said they have attended the air show for years.
“I like planes. I like helicopters. I have been coming to these since I was little. And I love, love the Blue Angels,” said Debbie Gray of Phippsburg.
Gray had her photograph taken as she sat inside the Maine Forest Service’s Huey. It is one of six Hueys owned by the forest service, three of which saw action in Vietnam. Today the helicopters are used to fight forest fires and occasionally to rescue a hiker.
Carter Davis, 9, of New Gloucester had a chance to try out the Huey’s controls while his little brother, Spencer, 5, dangled from the pitot tube – a rod-shaped gadget that projects from the nose of the helicopter and is used to measure air pressure – as their uncle, Joe Barton of Brunswick, watched from nearby. Barton was baby-sitting his nephews for the weekend and said the show was a great way to keep them occupied.
“It was perfect timing,” Barton said.
Area groups, such as the Maine Maritime Academy women’s basketball team and the Group Portland Division of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a leadership program for 11- to 17-year-olds, operated concession stands to raise money.
Darian Hodgdon, 12, of Saco and a friend, Seth Spear, 12, of Cushing, both members of the cadet corps junior program, sold ice cream and lemonade while enjoying a front-row seat at the air show.
“My favorite thing is to see the planes,” Darian said.
The show continues Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the gate. Tickets for children are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate.