The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) recently assigned their Bell 47G-4A helicopter to the Bayou State Escadrille, a newly-formed CAF unit based at Northshore Regional Airport in Hammond, Louisiana. On September 7th, 2022, several unit members traveled San Marcos, Texas to collect the ‘chopper’ and bring it home.
A CAF member generously donated the Bell 47 to the organization in 2017; the helicopter had previously seen extensive service in a flight school. While it is actually a civilian example manufactured in 1969, it closely resembles earlier variants which served in the U.S. military. Indeed, it is presently painted to represent a U.S. Army medical evacuation helicopter serving with a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) during the Korean War period.
Interestingly, this Bell 47 is the sole airworthy helicopter within the CAF fleet; it provides an opportunity for them to broaden their coverage of American military aviation, even extending it into the Vietnam War era, since many of that generation’s helicopter pilots trained on the type.
According to their press release, the Bayou State Escadrille is thrilled to receive their new prize since several of their members are helicopter pilots and mechanics, making this acquisition a great fit. The aircraft also means that unit members have a project to rally around – it will likely draw in new members from the community as a result. Furthermore, the Bell 47’s bubble canopy has fantastic all-around visibility, which will make it ideal for the unit to offer sightseeing and living history flights.