Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Rotorheads
Reload this Page >

50 Years of the Fabulous 500.

Rotorheads A haven for helicopter professionals to discuss the things that affect them

50 Years of the Fabulous 500.

Old 27th Feb 2013, 21:16
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ireland
Posts: 395
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
50 Years of the Fabulous 500.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the helicopter we know simply as “The 500”.

The 27th of February 1963 saw test pilots James Vittitoe and Raleigh Fletcher perform the first flight of a compact little egg-shaped helicopter at the Hughes Tool Company’s facility at Culver City in California. The YOH-6 was one of three entrants in the US Army’s “Light Observation Helicopter” contest for a new scout helicopter for the Army. The Army only purchased just over 1,400 helicopters but it has since gone on to be one of the legends of rotary-winged aviation.


Ships No.1 and 2. Copyright:Boeing.

In 1966, Hughes and the U.S. Army set twenty-three FAI world records, the majority in speed and time-to-height categories. The most remarkable of these was the distance record for a non-stop unrefuelled flight. In a flight lasting over 15 hours, Robert Ferry flew 2,213 miles and amazingly, this record still stands today. The only modification made to the prototype for this flight was the addition of a fuel tank in the rear compartment.


FAI.

In the late 1960’s, the OH-6A became the “Hughes 500” and became available to comercial helicopter operators the world over. It proved to be a great success and as well as being a useful aircraft for the myriad roles undertaken by commercial helicopters, it has become the aircraft-of-choice for many very particular jobs like;
• Aerial Powerline Repair
• Aerial Tree-Trimming
• Live Animal Capture

If you absolutely, positively have to do a toe-in, a 500 with tall skids would probably be your weapon-of-choice too. The Tuna Boat boys seem to like it, too and many Police Air Support Units in the U.S. simply replace their old 500s with new ones.



The 500 has starred on the big screen and small. Probably one of the most recognisable helicopters ever was a candy-striped 500D that flew in Hawaii in the 1980’s in support of a certain mustacheoed P.I.



A significant amount of rotorcraft technology has been test-flown on the OH-6/500 down through the years. Some of the technology trialled by the 500 include;
• Quiet Rotorcraft Technology. “The Quiet One” OH-6A prototype is allegedly the quietest helicopter yet to fly, quieter even than the YO-3 “Quiet Star”.
• Mast-Mounted Sight technology. The Hughes 500 was the first helicopter to fly with an operational mast-mounted sight in the late-seventies, built by Martin Marrietta.
• N.A.S.A. and Hughes used an OH-6A to test-fly a major and successful programme exploring “Higher Harmonic Control” in helicopters, a technology that some manufacturers are today incorporating into their helicopters to actively reduce vibration from the rotor system.
• Hughes test-flew their earliest composite main rotor system on a 500E. This rotor system was later adopted for the MD900 Explorer.
• The “NOTAR” anti-torque system was initially flown on an OH-6A test-bed and has gone into production on the MD520N and MD902 Explorer.
• The Hughes 530MG Defender flew in 1984 with what can probably be regarded as one of the earliest “glass cockpit” displays, paving the way for the type of cockpit displays in use on many helicopters in production today.
• Today, Boeing have a pair of prototypes that are pioneering autonomous rotorcraft technology. One prototype has flown with no pilot on-board. They have also tested the AVMS flight control system on the same prototype. This provides tactile information to the pilot through a side-stick cyclic. A number of “auto-land” systems have been tested including one by Thales for shipboard operations.


Boeing.

The 500 can also lift another 500 on a sling and Robert Ferry’s world distance record flight saw his YOH-6A lift-off at a weight three time’s its empty weight. The 500 has flown with a 4-, 5- and 6-blade main rotor system and a 2- and 4-blade tail rotor and no tail rotor at all (NOTAR). One 500 set a round-the-world speed record while another flew across the Atlantic.


John Manning.

The 500 has been licence-built in Argentina, Italy, Japan and South Korea and it remains in production today for military and civilian customers. All in all, not a bad record for a helicopter that measures less than thirty feet, nose to tail.



On top of all this, it is a great helicopter to fly and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


US Army Museum Archives via Ray Wilhite.

500 Fan.

Last edited by 500 Fan; 22nd Aug 2013 at 22:41.
500 Fan is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2013, 21:37
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: After all, what’s more important than proving to someone on the internet that they’re wrong? - Manson
Posts: 1,725
Received 13 Likes on 9 Posts
Makes me feel old!

RVDT is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2013, 22:24
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: 1 Dunghill Mansions, Putney
Posts: 1,797
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
The on-screen pilot of that candy-striped 500D flown in Hawaii in the 1980s in support of a certain mustacheoed P.I. will be at Heli-Expo this year. Roger E. Mosely ("TC") will be on the Phoenix Heliparts booth for signatures, along with Larry Minetti ("Rick") and a replica of N1095A.

I/C
Ian Corrigible is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2013, 23:18
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Downeast
Age: 74
Posts: 17,789
Received 146 Likes on 59 Posts
The "Fun-est" helicopter I ever flew! Hands Down! Did everything but crash in it I think.....and almost did that too.....once after an engine failure....and once due to a near fatal brain infarction!
SASless is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 02:29
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Age: 51
Posts: 1,631
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As a rotor-admirer from the FW world, it has always been my favourite. Maybe it was the Magnum PI intro or Apocalypse Now or something - but it's the one that got my heart beating. The S-76 is the prettiest of all helicopters, but the 500 is the coolest.
AdamFrisch is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 12:15
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: UK
Age: 46
Posts: 1,595
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Which one would be the sexiest Adam?
Brilliant Stuff is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 12:49
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Milano, Italia
Posts: 2,423
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Ah .. the flying egg, the angry bumble bee .. the little bird!

I first flew the 500 in 1982 in Brasil and was intrigued by the contrast in feel between it and the 206.

I initially bemocked its 'vibrating' cyclic as it shimmied from the feedback of its muted linkage to the main rotor but .. a few years later (in Papua New Guinea) I came to admire the craft when I was able to put it through its paces during hundreds of hours of mineral exploration support, inserting and extracting geological teams into insufferably modest landing areas along various mountainside streams and creeks.

For such work, which invariably involved passenger access and egress while hovering .. typically with one skid balanced on a boulder (and this usually after having 'weaved' the aircraft through several layers of jungle canopy to reach the stream) the 500 was indisputable 'king' with its crisp responsiveness which allowed for precision manoeuvrability.

The screeching transmission just behind your shoulder, constant compassion for your rear seat passengers and a slightly quick rate of descent during autos were all forgiven when a heavy-footed geologist jumped onto the skid and the craft responded with alacrity to the counter.

Unquestionably the most 'fun' helicopter I've ever flown.


A youthful Savoia aboard Votec Hughes 500D PT-HPC at Aeroporto de Macaé, Brasil, in 1982

ps: Adam: Agreed. The 76 is still the sleekest of the girls although from its lines one can see that the Bell 525 is trying to copy her style.

pps: If anyone is attending Heli Expo and happens upon the scenario described by Ian Corrigible .. please take a couple of photos and post them on PPRuNe!
Savoia is offline  
The following users liked this post:
Old 28th Feb 2013, 13:24
  #8 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ireland
Posts: 395
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Here are two more Votec 500s. A pair of Cs.

Air-Britain : Hughes 369HS

Air-Britain : Hughes 369HS

Thanks for sharing your photo of that very attractive-looking D. It looks sharp with pop-outs, cargo pod and the classic candy-stripe colour scheme. What kind of operation wee Votec's 500s used for, given that they are all fitted with pop-outs? Thanks.

500 Fan.
500 Fan is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 14:01
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Milano, Italia
Posts: 2,423
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
500: Well done on the thread! A great little ship .. for sure.

Remarkably, the 500's were used for offshore rig support providing access for technicians, essential crew and supplying priority parts and small equipment.

In the late 70's and early 80's the offshore market was just picking-up in Brasil but there were already plenty of 'normal' offshore workhorses (of which I also have photos) but as some of the rigs were not far offshore smaller aircraft (such as the 500's) were used for support missions where, for example, an S61 would have been an overkill.

I also have the photos by Martin Harrison (we've be showcasing some of his work on the Nostalgia Thread) and it was great to see the Votec 'C' models again.

As you know, the Italian manufacturer Breda Nardi built the 500 under licence from Hughes for many years (until BN were merged with Agusta) in fact, some Breda Nardi 500's even operated in Brasil!


Italian Air Force Breda Nardi NH500E MM81271 over Frosinone on 29th May 2005 (Photo: Alessandro Savarese)


Corpo Forestale dello Stato (Italian Forestry Department) Breda Nardi NH500D I-CFSM at Imperia Heliport, Imperia, on 14th April 2003 (Photo: Alfredo La Marca)
Savoia is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 14:28
  #10 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ireland
Posts: 395
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Thanks Sav. Oil rigs, eh? Is there nowhere that the little 500 wasn't useful? It might not be widely known but PHI also operated a handful of early 500s in support of off-shore operations, probably in the early seventies.

500 Fan.
500 Fan is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 15:33
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: 1 Dunghill Mansions, Putney
Posts: 1,797
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Originally Posted by 500 Fan
7 people in a Loach, eh?

So how many marriages resulted from such intimate accommodation?

I/C

Last edited by Ian Corrigible; 27th Aug 2014 at 19:33.
Ian Corrigible is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 16:52
  #12 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ireland
Posts: 395
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
I thought that line from the cover of the sales brochure would catch someone's attention sooner or later! 7 was possible but obviously far from practical.

To accommodate the 4 in the back, two foam pads were fitted to the floor, one pad at the rear and one pad on the floor at the very front of the rear compartment. Two people were then seated on the forward pad facing backwards and two on the rear pad facing forwards, with their legs intertwined with their opposite number. This seating arrangement even came with seat belts attached to hard-points on the floor. I'm not sure how many helicopters were sold as seven-seater's but I'd imagine it was a rare day indeed when a commercial operator flew that many souls in a 500. It would certainly be a profitable operation if everyone was paying full fare on such trips and this thinking was in fact a significant part of Hughes' early sales push for the type.

The U.S. Army Special Ops boys did fly their early 500Ds (MH-6E) with 8 on-board from time to time. Two inside with three seated outside on each people-plank. Again, it wasn't common practice to carry three on each side, two generally being the norm, but allegedly it did happen!

Apparently the early people-planks were quite comfortable.

Graham Stevens Collection.

500 Fan.

Last edited by 500 Fan; 28th Feb 2013 at 22:14.
500 Fan is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2013, 19:59
  #13 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ireland
Posts: 395
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
The history of the relationship between the Hughes 500 and the deer hasn't always been pretty. Often, the deer has ended up with his head blown off, or at the very least, being unceremoniously hauled off alive on a long-line. To make up for these injustices against our furry friends, this pilot has attempted to make amends with this slick piece of flying.

Video: Helicopter blows deer trapped on frozen lake to shore in clever rescue - Telegraph

The piece of footage from 00:39 onwards is pretty cool. The pilot has a nice, steady, sidewards hover going and the deer is skating along at a healthy rate of knots. For once, 500 and deer both go their separate ways, happy.

500 Fan.
500 Fan is offline  
Old 1st Mar 2013, 14:34
  #14 (permalink)  
Owz
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: South Wales. UK
Posts: 14
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's nice to see all the positive comments about the 500 as I'm doing my rating at the moment. (Bloody EASA rules!! if only I had an FAA Licence not a CAA UK one!) I must admit it is indeed the sports car of the helicopter world with plenty of power and maneuverability. I'm really enjoying flying it.

If anyone with lots of experience has any tips on things I should watch then I'd be grateful? Got my licence last year so am very much a novice!

Living the dream!
Owz is offline  
Old 1st Mar 2013, 14:37
  #15 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Belper, Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,326
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My favourite helicopter too!
Whirlybird is offline  
Old 1st Mar 2013, 15:57
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Downeast
Age: 74
Posts: 17,789
Received 146 Likes on 59 Posts
Owz......basic rule.....Fly with yer Thumb!



I pampered a 500E model for a couple of years flying a corporate gig.....washed every time it flew, cabin interior kept spic and span with plastic floor mats and Spit Cups for the Worm Dirt Masticators.

Not too many years later....stood in a Hangar looking at the crumpled up mess that resulted from someone treating her in a very un-nice manner. All of it would have fit into the bed of a standard Pickup Truck.

What a shame.....07C deserved a much better fate.

Last edited by SASless; 1st Mar 2013 at 16:02.
SASless is offline  
Old 1st Mar 2013, 18:41
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK
Age: 65
Posts: 919
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Owz
If anyone with lots of experience has any tips on things I should watch then I'd be grateful?
If you are going from previous piston experience, make sure you do not inadvertantly roll off the throttle on approach and then expect it to come back on again quickly. Allways keep it at full throttle.
It caught me out once and I ended up on the ground when I didn't want to.
chopjock is offline  
Old 1st Mar 2013, 19:36
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: St Johns, Newfoundland,Canada
Posts: 330
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
50 Years of the Fabulous 500.

2000+ hrs on 500D/E and Notar, great fun. Nice platform and stable for longline ops. Only fault I thought was limited range, made ferrying from Eastern Canada to Western Canada for siesmic jobs pretty entertaining, oh and a sore thumb at the end of day. Had a runaway trim once coming off a drill pad in a Notar, an interesting second or two.......wouldn't care to be a backseat pax in any of the variants though, a tad noisy and cramped.
newfieboy is offline  
Old 1st Mar 2013, 20:00
  #19 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: In the air with luck
Posts: 1,015
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
newfi
Expect you can find trim breaker in the dark eyes closed & 2 dancing girls doing there best.
Sticky switch is bad enough.

Last edited by 500e; 1st Mar 2013 at 20:01.
500e is offline  
Old 2nd Mar 2013, 01:39
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Age: 51
Posts: 1,631
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Which one would be the sexiest Adam?
That has to be the CH-53 Super Stallion, but I like them with a little meat on...
AdamFrisch is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.