Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sikorsky S-55 N5096V

The following three fabulous photographs were kindly sent to me by Tony Harsant with the attached note :-
"Perhaps you can throw some light on this helicopter in these three photos that I took in the early 1960's at a factory in Penrose, Auckland".
This helicopter was built as a Sikorsky H-19B "Chickasaw" with the c/n 55617 and given the US military serial number of 52-7526. It was completed in December of 1953 and delivered to the US Army.
At the end of its military career it was sold off by the US Army and entered the US civil aircraft register as N5096V with Trans Alaska Helicopters in June of 1959.
I have a note that it was assembled in the Penrose area, east of the current motorway and was test flown from there on 23-08-1962 (so that should date the photos pretty well).
It was operated by Helicopters (NZ) Ltd and flown by the boss John Reid.
On 13-03-1963 it had an engine problem and force landed at Alton Hurleyville area in South Taranaki. (About 20kn ESE of Hawera). So it didn't last all that long.
 It was then stored near Wanganui until it was moved to Nelson (the HCNZ main base) in December of 1968. The body was converted into a shed/trailer/workshop.
It was NZ's first "heavy lift" helicopter although it remained on the US civil register.
Above it is seen at Wellington Airport. Date unknown.
 Photo comes from the Airport staff newsletter of the period.
It appears to carry some shield or crest  just forward of the cabin window.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it ended its days as a shed in NZ as it was later reported to have crashed in Valdez, Alaska in 1971. I logged it as a sighting at Chicago's O'Hare Intl Airport in June 1966, so it must have been shipped back for repair in the USA prior to that date.