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Remembering Joe Pike

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Remembering Joe Pike

Old 14th Nov 2009, 20:49
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Remembering Joe Pike

It is with great sadness I announce the loss of Joe Pike. Joe, my first flight instructor from 1981, has been lost in an accident in California. Joe was an excellent pilot and a mans man. He was an excellent father, husband and grandfather.

Joe Pike, a long-time helicopter pilot and Bell 47 aficionado, died November 7, 2009 when his vintage Piasecki HUP-1 Retriever crashed in the California desert near Victorville. Pike and two other men were on their way to the annual Veteran’s Day Celebration at Flabob Airport near Riverside. The exact cause of the crash is unknown, but Pike did transmit a mayday call to the Victorville air traffic control tower before the helicopter hit a power line just south of the Adelanto airport where Pike has a hangar.

Pike served two years with the US Navy, including shipboard duty off the coast of Vietnam. He was a Machinist’s Mate and went on to become a master machinist, a skill that served him well as he rebuilt the Piasecki from a rusted-out hull and a salvaged engine. The restoration was a labor of love, and Pike’s two sons, Mark and Joe, both A&P mechanics, were commandeered into service on the project which took the better part of three years. Pike even enlisted his brother, Doug, when it came time to paint the craft in authentic Navy colors and markings. Pike’s Piasecki was flown to numerous air shows after its maiden flight in 2002, including the Piasecki Tribute at that year’s Vertical Challenge in San Carlos, CA.

Pike, who would have celebrated his 62nd birthday in January, had a colorful aviation career while still keeping his feet on the ground. He used the GI Bill to take helicopter flight lessons, and went on to become a CFI. He owned and operated Golden State Helicopters for many years and guided countless students to their helicopter certificates – always in a Bell 47. Pike considered the 47 to be the most reliable piston-engine helicopter and the best rotorcraft for instruction. Because the Bell 47 requires the pilot to be completely aware of all aspects of flight, Pike often said “If you can learn to fly a Bell 47, you can learn to fly anything.”

Pike worked as an A&P mechanic and machinist for many years at General Electric in Ontario, California, mostly on evening or night shifts in order to be able to continue training new students. He held type ratings in both piston and turbine rotorcraft, and flew everything from emergency airlift missions in a Bell 212 for Mercy Air to firefighting water drops in Sikorsky S-61 flying crane for Carson Helicopters.

Pike held true to the most traditional of values – duty, honor, country, family and friends. He was selfless with his knowledge and shameless of his passion – helicopters. And he always found the time to get someone else excited about helicopters – especially youngsters. Most EAA Young Eagles events would find him there with one of his three Bell 47’s to give some kid their first helicopter ride – and a chance to actually put a hand on the stick.

Pike’s Adelanto hangar is a working museum – an extension of Classic Rotors, a non-profit organization dedicated the preservation of historic helicopters and vintage rotorcraft. Pike’s sons will continue his legacy, including working to restore the aircraft presently in the hangar. Both men learned to fly in their dad’s Bell 47, and they’ve no intention of letting that heritage die. In Mark Pike’s words “we are going to continue what he passed down to us.” There’s little doubt there’s a Bell 47 in the future of Pike’s three grandchildren – and Joe will be there watching over them.


Adelanto Helicopter Museum's hangar is packed with history | adelanto, packed, hangar - Local News - Victorville Daily Press

3 killed in I.E. helicopter crash - 11/07/09 - Los Angeles-Southern California-LA Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports - abc7.com

Pilot of crashed helicopter had rescue and firefighting missions with Mercy Air and U.S. Forest Service :: The Valley News
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Old 15th Nov 2009, 03:42
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Piasecki HUP-1 (H-25) Crash

The Pike Family of Victorville, California experienced a fatal crash of a Vintage Piasecki HUP-1 Helicopter shortly after takeoff from Victorville Airport. All three occupants were killed.

A video report can be found at http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?se...ire&id=7106462
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Old 15th Nov 2009, 08:42
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Wikipedia information

I had to look it up:


I didn't realize it was a twin rotor...

My condolences
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Old 15th Nov 2009, 11:56
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It was the only HUP flying, if memory serves me right. It was run as part of the Classic Rotors collecction - a group of very dedicated enthuiasts in Southern California.
Very sad as they were all great helicopter folks.
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Old 15th Nov 2009, 11:59
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My condolences - I knew Joe briefly when I worked at Mojave and our students flew with him.
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Old 15th Nov 2009, 23:40
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Joe Pike a Friend, Talented Pilot and Mechanic

I had the privilege of working with Joe at Heavy Lift Helicopters a few years back. The Piasecki HUP-1 was Joe’s personal pride and joy. He proudly built it up from a scrap heap to a flying machine. I believe that it had graced the cover of Rotor & Wing magazine flying in formation with an H-46 and another vintage Piasecki. Joe was a talented professional pilot and mechanic. I for one will miss Joe and his ever lasting “Great Big Toothy Grin”
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Old 16th Nov 2009, 12:43
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The helicopter in question was featured in the IMAX film Straight Up - Helicopters in Action.

My condolences to all involved. I have fond memories of ambling around Classic Rotors located in Ramona, CA.

Last edited by vaqueroaero; 19th Nov 2009 at 14:54.
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 00:52
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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From the Family


Thank you for a nice post. Joe was my uncle. Joey, Mark, and I grew up together and have been through a lot together. This tragedy is one that we never thought would happen.

For anybody interested, the memorial service will be at Arlington Cemetry in Riverside, CA. It is open invitation for those who want to pay their respects. We are having a veterans service for him. Following the ceremony there will be a gathering at the Adelanto hanger to celebrate his life and legacy.

My uncle was a great pilot, and his contributions to aviation and the rotary aircraft community will be missed. Luckily, he has passed much of his knowledge to the boys, and they are planning on carrying on the work with Classic Rotors. He was also a great husband, father, grandfather, and uncle, and we will miss him dearly.

Thank you again to everybody for the kind words.
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