The TH-1H Huey II is currently used for training flights

United States' last Hueys: Vietnam-era veterans still flying in the US Air Force

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, popularly known as the Huey in the United States, is already a classic in aviation history.

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The UH-1H "Hotel" was a variant of the UH-1D , the first military version of the Bell 205, which itself was a derivative of the shorter Bell 204. It made its first flight in 1966. The US Army received 4,850 units. Many of these participated in the Vietnam War - and many were lost there - becoming visually associated with it in popular culture due to its appearance in many films.

A TH-1H at Keesler AFB, Mississippi on April 7, 2018 (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

The UH-1H was exported to many countries and is still in service in some of them. However, the Huey was gradually withdrawn from US service, being replaced by the UH-60 Black Hawk and its variants. However,the Marines still operate a heavily modernized variant, the Bell UH-1Y Venom. But the Huey, like the old rockers, never seems to die, even in its home country.

A USAF cadet in the cockpit of a TH-1H at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, on April 6, 2018 (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

So many years after being displaced by more modern helicopters, even in the armed forces of other countries, the always modern and advanced United States Air Force (USAF) is still using 40 updated UH-1Hs. We are talking about helicopters whose current pilots could be the grandchildren of pilots who also flew UH-1Hs.

Students from the USAF 14th Flight Training Wing stand next to a TH-1H at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, on January 26, 2021 (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

These helicopters are called the Bell TH-1H Huey II, and have been modernized from older UH-1Hs and their medical evacuation version, the UH-1V. They have certain differences with the Hotel model: its cabin is the same as that of the Bell 212 (more aerodynamic) and it has digital displays, the tail rotor has been changed to the side to achieve greater efficiency (in the UH-1 it was to port, in the TH-1H it is to starboard), they have been introduced with a more robust transmission and a reinforced tail arm, they have been equipped with a location transmitter emergency and its engine has been updated, going from 1,400 to 1,600 HP.

A TH-1H at Robins AFB, Georgia, on October 8, 2020 (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

According to, TH-1Hs are former US Army helicopters purchased in the 1970s and upgraded to Huey II standard in the early 2000s. They are currently operated by the 23rd Air Force Training Squadron. Flight (23FTS) at Cairns Army Airfield, Fort Rucker, Alabama.

USAF flight students in a TH-1H at Fort Rucker, Alabama, on October 10, 2019 (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

These helicopters are used to train all USAF helicopter pilots, whatever the model in which they are going to carry out their mission. Sometimes they are also used for retraining flights and for tributes to veteran pilots who flew in the UH-1H, as in the image that we see below these lines.

A TH-1H from the USAF 23rd Flight Training Squadron during a tribute flight for a Vietnam War veteran and former UH-1H pilot near Samson, Alabama on November 21, 2022 (Photo: U.S. Army).

In this video by Rich Pittman, posted in November 2017, we can see (and especially listening) a TH-1H in flight, with the classic noise made by the two-blade rotors of the old Hueys:

In this other video by Rob Mayner, posted two months ago, we can see the flight in a TH-1H seen from inside its cockpit:

Long live the Huey!

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