Fairchild-based UH-1N hits 17,000-hour milestone, highest in AF

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicolo J. Daniello
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The 36th Rescue Flight's helicopter, UH-1N Iroquois 69-6648, passed the 17,000 flight hour milestone Feb. 24 achieving the most for that airframe in the Air Force's inventory.

Not only does the 36th RQF hold the record for the most flight hours for that airframe, but they also hold the record for the highest average flight hours of any fleet unit using the UH-1N airframe.

"It's really incredible when you think about it," said Maj. R. Tyler Rennell, a 36th RQF standardization and evaluation pilot and aircraft commander for the record flight. "An aircraft designed in the 1960s and maintained for nearly half a century is still being flown today with the highest mission capable rate of any other platform in the Air Force."

The UH-1N, also known as the "Huey," was designed in the late 1960s and put into military use in the early 1970s. It is primarily used as a search and rescue asset, light utility transport helicopter, command and control platform, medevac ambulance and close air support gunship.

"They were originally designed for 2,500 flight hours," said Jake Burwell, productions supervisor for Akima Technical Solutions who are contracted through the 36th RQF."They were only meant to last between two and three years."

The UH-1N helicopters at Fairchild are flown evenly, following what is known as fleet time management, Burwell said. By spreading out the flight hours you also spread out the maintenance needed for the helicopters.

During the milestone flight, Rennell said it didn't feel like the helicopter was an hour past 10,000 flight hours.

"To know that we have the highest flight hours in the Air Force and for the helicopter to still perform so well is a testament to our maintainers at Fairchild," Rennell said.

The 36th RQF was activated in 1971 and is a tenant unit of the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Their mission is to support the training purposes of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape technical school here.