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unidentified Helio

Started by Doug Johnson, December 08, 2012, 06:43:29 PM

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Doug Johnson

Here's 3 new Helios.

Anyone recognize the military Helio's or the Swiss rescue Helio?


edit: c/n 529   1961         H-395    registry MM91001                Italian state security

edit: c/n 014 originally N4202B, next HB-EZB Switzerland Avalance emergency rescue-parachutist (Rega) jumps along with his dog, then OY-ECB '80 Denmark, final registry N4430B sold for parts

Doug Johnson

did some searching this is what I came up with.

1) The site I found this picture is in Italian so I looked at Italian military planes and found the same marking. I only have one Italian Helio on my list.
c/n 529, registry MM91001, 1960 H-395,   Italy Air force, originally N4178D, acquired in 1961 for operations on behalf of the SIOS ( Italian State Security) and  dismantled  at the beginning of the 'Eighties.

2) I figured put how to go to the site that had the image. It is shown as “313104” flying over South Vietnam.
Went to list and it is  c/n 612, s/n (63-13104),1963, H-395/U-10B,   A U-10B/U-10D conv, Air NG, 14th Special Operations wing, crashed S/Vietnam

3) I only have one Swiss H-391 listed so I assume it this one.
c/n 014, 1955 H-391B, originally N4202B, HB-EZB Rega Switzerland Avalance emergency, OY-ECB '80 Denmark Anders Hansen crash severe damage 11/71 @ Store Vildmose Denmark, wreck exported US '82, as N4430B  Dodson Aviation KS '91,  Mark Van Oosten AZ '92, Carson Leasing and Equity in Salem OR,   Xpired reg ?


Doug Johnson

Anybody recognize these three Helios just discovered them if no one has any info I'll post what I have in a few days.



Doug, i am in Tucson right now with my Flying Winnebago, and a gentleman came to look at it.  Then we swicth conversation to helio and he pointed me a hangar where the turbine powered tri-gear is sitting.  The one flown by the police.  He told me they had made two of them.  Only one still in shape.  And then he told me that at the military airport, 5 miles from where i am parked for the night, there is a hangar filled with Air America Helio.

I supposed you all know that, but i was surprised anyway.


Doug Johnson

No I didn't know of any Air America helios in Arizona find out more and tell me the whole story. A whole hanger full I find it hard to believe.

Also tell me more about the 2 turboprop Helios. I've heard that both are supposed to be removed from service this year but I hadn't heard that one wasn't serviceable which one is it and why isn't it serviceable.



Sure would be fun to find a stash of Air America Helios hidden in a hangar at Davis Monthan.  I have poured over google maps many a time looking for rare and exciting planes in the scrap piles.  I have found some planes that possibly flew for Air America (C-123, DHC-4, and DC-3supers)  but never have I seen the profile of a U-10 out in the desert sun.  There are some hangars on the field, but precious few.  I can't imagine that a pile of old U-10s would warrant being in a hangar and not out in the elements.  Does anyone know if the inventory of Davis Monthan is publicly available?

Doug Johnson

If there are Helios in a Hanger in the Arizona desert or even setting out in the sun they aren't Air America Helios all 29 Helios acquired by Air America have been accounted for in one way or another, and those that survived nearly all even wrecks went to the Philippines (Aviation Associates inc Manila) the ship they were placed on and the date it sailed is on record.

All Helios that were given storage numbers at Davis-Monthan have been declared excess and Struck off Command and have been accounted for, and the other 499 helios built are accounted for and spread around so much that the ones that fate is unknown would be hard to gather.

A few CIA Helio's and Army Helios don't have a verified fate so that possibility lingers.

Then there are the so called clean Helios that some people beleive were built in Taiwan, In reality it seems unlikely that there was more than a handful if any, I believe if there ever were any built the possibility of an embarrassing exposure would have led to their destruction long ago.

I'm not sure if the inventory of DM AFB storage is still available but I was told it was at one time, I know they used to give tours of the bone yard.

I hope Louis finds where this hanger is and it has a few of any kind of Helio's in it. I agree it sure would be fun.



Jason Stephens

I believe its the Pinal County Sheriff's dept that has the turboprop Helios.  I've haven't been down there to see them in person but they have some videos on youtube.

I've heard zero about any Helios still being at DM.  My U-10B came out of there, but that was a long time ago, maybe in the 90's.  I'm super busy at work but the next time I can I'll ask around down there.  I believe the tours of the boneyard have ended for the summer but will start up again in the fall.  Usually somebody at the Pima Air Museum knows a thing or two about what is still stored at DM.


Quote from: Doug Johnson on April 14, 2014, 02:40:27 AM
No I didn't know of any Air America helios in Arizona find out more and tell me the whole story. A whole hanger full I find it hard to believe.

Also tell me more about the 2 turboprop Helios. I've heard that both are supposed to be removed from service this year but I hadn't heard that one wasn't serviceable which one is it and why isn't it serviceable.


I am going back there tomorrow morning.  Hope to see the guy.  I am parked at premier but finally, it is owned by Millionair.  Or so.  The guy work for the FBO.  His father is around 82 and he is supposed to be there tomorrow.  The older gentleman flew a Cessna 195 for years in northern Ontario to bring parts to mining operation.  I want to see him to see if he had met the Helio Priest.  A guy i heard a lot of when i go into villages of Labrador and Northern Quebec.  Some priest that was flying an helio from viallge to villages before airports with runways were installed.  Wich is not so long time away, when i was doing canoe trip upthere, we had to take a plane to come back south ( no roads to go there) and the scheduled plane was a DC3 landing directly on the street of the village. 
When i go there with the Helio, often old guys talks to me about the priest Helio.

Anyway, if i recal, two days ago, the guy told me one of the police Helio did not fly since some times.  The other one he saw it out more often and more lately.  The story on the airfield is that those helio have some kind of problem with the paperwork.  Like if it was flying experimental and could not do it anymore.  Like expired permission or so.  One being expired before the other one.  I will see tomorrow.

The other story about the Helios in hangar is two part.  One part is about a nearby airport wich was some kind of base for Air America.  A long time ago.  But the facility is still close to public and you cannot go there even with a car.  But the hangared helio are not there.  They are supposed to be at the military airbase just 5 miles from Tucson.  From time to time, they have like a public day where you can take a tour of the base.  And you could see this hangar.  I tried to go there two days ago, but all the roads were blocked.  So i went to my hotel, on the side of the mountain.  then i did undertsand why all the roads to the military airport were closed:  there was an airshow !!  We were able to see the air show from the Hotel.  Pretty impresive.  Big wind did ground the airshow, and the next day in was ok.

So i will try to get the guy, or his father, tomorrow morning.  It is not easy for me, with my limited english.
Anybody here is close to Tucson to help me ?  Coffee is good in my Flying Winnebago. 


the guy who was telling me those helio stories is the man with the yellow safety jacket.  The two other gentleman were flying a C206 equipped with some kind of camera imagery system with long tube under the belly for the muffler so the heat do not disturb the imagery.  There are all based in Tucson

it is always fun to be able to let pilots come in the Flying Winnebago.  I have a Expresso machine ( Handpresso) so i can always make  them  the best coffee of the field.


May be the best is that i take his name, and phone, and ask him teh permission to have you phone him.  So you will have the story straight.  It is difficult for me to catch evrything.  The guy is very friendly and helpfull.  I am sure he would be glad to help, and tell all his stories about what he knows about the military Helio and the turbine police one.

Or even PM message me your phone number.  We will do a conference call tomorrow morning with him !


Doug Johnson

I'm not home until next Monday after (Easter Holiday). Hope you got some interesting information to pass along.

The Priest you mention was Rev Robert Bryan, Quebec Labrador Mission his first of 5 Helios was c/n 2513 N269E (I was told its probably for Ezra 2:69) in '65, next was c/n 1208 N269E 66-68, next c/n 1286 N269E 11/67-73, next c/n 1292 N269E '72-'80, last c/n 2531 N169E '79, the first one isn't around any longer and the second became N99PM which had an accident while with Gary Schmidt of Highlander Aircraft so he built the Highlander Superstol. The other three are still flying.

The Two Pima Sheriff's dept Helios are N400HE c/n H-22 and N613SD c/n 1709 and have been registered under Government in the Public Use Category. That is how they have been getting around the experimental exhibition restrictions placed on them from being reconfigured as a HT-420T Turboprops with 420 hp Allison (250-B17C) engines.

Maybe our friends at FAA have changed the rules to promote aviation by increasing Helicopter sales? Anyone know?

The rumor is that they are scheduled to be replaced this year. Anyone know anything more about that? I have no idea what the cost of the Helicopters to replace them with will be, but I'm sure it will be plenty. Anyone have any guesses?

Please get what information you can I'll check in occasionally.



I have to whole interview on file about the Helios of Tucson.  Will get that to you.  Flying over the Grand Canyon was incredible.  What a scenery !!

Thanks for the priest Helio.  I always wanted to know if it was true about that priest and a Helio.  There was also a two motor Dornier around there, and the stories changes to a two motor Helio.  I am happy to learn that this priest really existed.  Thanks



hey already have an Helicopter.  They went flying when i was there.  The Helio is filled with electronics and they do fly a lot at night.  The Cessna 206 guy also is flying a lot with gizmo.  He could not tell me the mission though.  Top secret.  Insurance could be the reason for the Helio.  There is police work being done there.  Insurance for the life of the police without a Type Certicate seams to be problematic.

Sound logical.

We did had some kind of accident at home with a similar setup.  It was night flying for Park ranger to catch deer hunters poachers.  They were doing it in a 206 with special permission. ( night flying commercial single engine )  Then they went into bad weather and they crashed.  The union of the police was pissed off when they learned that theyr members (policeman-park ranger) where flying in a setup that was not approved for "normal" persons because being considered too dangerous.  Insurance did not want to pay because life insurance for the same reason.  Everything went bad.  Now this program is stopped.  Life of the abudent deers ( we have so much that they get killed on the road a lot more than poached ) is now considered less important than the one of the rangers.

Insurance can be tougher than the FAA


Doug Johnson

This is an edit of photos at beginning of post

#1 in the first post above is construction number 600, USAF serial number (63-13095), built 08/63 as H-395/U-10B sold to USAF as s/n 63-13095  08/63, t/n “313095” conformity certificate show deviation “built without 120 gal Long Range fuel sys, USAF Air NG until 05/67, USAF Southern Command, 24th Special Operations Wing, 605th Air Commando Squadron, Howard AFB, shipped in a box to Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon S/Vietnam 01/72, it was then assembled by CIA personnel Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon S/Vietnam, and then flown to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Assistant Air Attache Major Kent Goldsmith accident while giving a familiarization flight when attempting to land in crosswind to avoid a thunderstorm left main gear collapsed and aircraft skidded into revetment area near runway @ Pochentong 3/72, boxed up and flown by C-130 to CCK Air Base Taiwan for repair returned to Cambodia and remained at US embassy until 10/75, declared surplus struck off charge, USAF sold as “3095” surplus sale to W. Rosewald located at Don Muang, Thailand, outside the 70th Aviation Detachment Area, in Good condition as N65391 '79, Tribal Air Communications inc (Air Arm of New Tribes Mission) Grant Nebraska export as RP-C309 New Tribe Mission of the Philippines Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, '90 certificate of airworthiness expired but still registered 03/13, ?

received this email about c/n 600

"I dug into my old flight records. I picked up the U10 in Saigon in January of 1972. Crashed it in March 72. Back in service by April 72. FYI: We had no military presence in Cambodia other than Attache staff: 3 AF, 5 Army, 1 Navy and 8 Marine embassy guards. Heirarch was Defense Attache (Colonel, Army), Air Attache (Colonel USAF) and 2 Asst Air Attaches (Majors). Accident was reported Defense Attache who decided not to report it to DIA - all attaches reported to DIA, not to respective service.

I arrived in Phnom Penh in May of 71 and left in May of 73.


#2 above appears to be marked Aerovias Americas it is probably a 600 series U-10B in Panama. Photo  taken by Dan Hagedorn not much known about it.

Could use some help here.

#3 above and below is c/n 631, s/n (63-13178), t/n “313178” an H-395/U-10B built 02/64 for USAF 02/64, “131378” Struck off Charge to US Army 02/64, Army Special Forces? Ft Bragg NC 12/69, US Army Forces Command, 193rd Infantry, 210th Aviation Battalion, 352nd Aviation Detachment, Panama Canal Zone, Fort Gulick, Panama  last known to be in salvage yard near Devens, MA current location ?, '?

Can anyone add anything?

recieved this email about c/n 631;

      The first picture in the ones you sent? I TOOK IT ! It is 63-13178, taken at Rio Hato in the republic of Panama. We were supporting maneuvers for the 8th. SFG.  I remember washing off the mud.  The pilot, Major Fred Fragoso, helped me wash it off.  That’s right!  The Major helped me wash the mud off it.  We flew 178 and 180 to the Canal Zone from Fort Bragg via, Cozumel, Belize (then British Honduras), San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Managua, San Jose, then Albrook AFB, Canal zone. It took us 14 days.  But that’s another story.  Holding the cursor over that picture 63-13168 comes up.  I am positive that is 63-13178!  I made up green and red plastic sheets to disguise the U.S. insignia star, and I painted over the U.S. Army with whitewash paint for certain missions.  They were unmarked except for the serial number on the tail.  This was changed when Gen. Chester Johnson did not know what unit 178 and 180 were in and he embarrassed himself.  He was in charge of all military in the Canal Zone, and had insignias put on against the wishes of Special Forces.  (We were a clandestine unit).  Kind of hard to be “spooky” with U.S.ARMY AND STAR insignias.  This A/C, the last I heard, was in a salvage yard in Mass.
        63-13180 was destroyed in a plane crash in Gatun Lake, in the Canal Zone.  I won’t go into detail in print!
       The A/C the Army had, 15 in all, had Lycoming go-480 engines with Riley turbochargers.  The Special Forces Helios had FM homing antennas forward of the cockpit on each side.  All doors were of the quick release type.  They also have “relief” tubes on the bottom, with a funnel between the forward and rear seats.  I also attended the Helio factory school in Pittsburg, Kansas.  At the time I was drafted, I had my A&P license.  So I never went to any Army school. 
   The writer Bob Dorr interviewed me a few years back when he did a series on the Helio.  I have the magazine here now.
   The enclosed scan article has a GLAREING error.  The two helios we took to the Canal Zone were NOT “Equipped with floats”!
Bob Dorr was not amused when I pointed it out to him, and he blamed it on the publisher!
Anyway, it took me the last hour to figure how to scan this and email it.  I just got a new Canon mx922 printer/scanner and am going through a learning curve.
Hope it comes through.  It would be a good way to send other items.  I will have to figure out why it sent two identical pages.  Bear with me.
  Well, I don’t want to bore you any more than necessary.  Suffice to say, considering where I could have ended up drafted in 1968, I actually enjoyed my Army time.  The helio was and is quite an airplane.



I talked to the head of the Pima County aviation unit last month.  Helio's are going and a Soloy 206 has been bought to replace one.  They expect to replace the second Helio most likely with a second Soloy 206.  You can read about the law enforcement model on the Soloy website