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Loach! The Story of the H-6/Model 500 Helicopter

Loach! The Story of the H-6/Model 500 Helicopter Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2007 Title Loach!
Author Wayne Mutza Publisher Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Published 2005 ISBN 0-7643-2343-1
Format 144 pages, Softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95

Review

The OH-6 Cayuse, nicknamed LOACH for its official designation of LOH (Light Observation Helicopter), is one of my favorite aircraft. When I was in my first year of college, there was this little event going on called Vietnam, and I wanted to fly the Loach. A quick trip to the Army recruiter got me the usual 'we've got no openings in flight school right now, but if you sign up for the infantry, you can transfer when an opening is available.' That impressed me so much that I started my Air Force career shortly afterwards.

While in the middle of an assignment in Europe, I read a memo that the Army was looking for helicopter pilots and volunteers were being sought from the other branches. A few phone calls later and I had applied. Before I knew it, I had been accepted to Fort Rucker for rotary wing training pending a flight physical and some paperwork. That was when another little event happened - Desert One. The aborted rescue of the Americans held hostage in the US Embassy in Tehran because of the impossible rules of engagement laid out by then-president Jimmy Carter. After a number of comments from my friends about the new add-on training at Fort Rucker for landing in sand, I had second thoughts about 'peacetime' Army Aviation and stuck with the Air Force. In hindsight, I still wish I had taken the plunge so I could fly the Loach!

Author Wayne Mutza has brought the OH-6 back to the forefront in his book 'Loach!'. The story begins with the development of the Hughes Model 500 aircraft and its subsequent employment in Vietnam. Decorated Loach veteran Hugh Mills flew the Loach in Vietnam and had quite a few interesting stories to tell in his own book 'Low Level Hell'.

This title walks the reader through the history of this aircraft from its early days in Vietnam through current operations with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, from its early civilian offerings through its successful use by law enforcement. The chapter layout includes:

  • What the Army Asked For
  • Aeroscouts
  • After Vietnam
  • Improving the Breed
  • Black Operations
  • Silver Eagles
  • Global Inventory
  • Choppers Up - Crime Down
  • Ghosts

Note the chapter on the Silver Eagles. This is a brief look at the Army's helicopter demonstration team that only lasted several seasons, but what an impressive show! The team consisted of six OH-6As performing precision maneuvers, and a seventh aircraft wearing a clown face and floppy ears that performed some rather unique solo stunts. My favorite was playing yo-yo with a 55 gallon drum with a cable around it whilst the end of the cable was looped over one skid.

The imagery in this title is mostly color with some black and whites from the field in Vietnam. The writing is well-done and will make for a good read (especially if you love the aircraft!). Modelers will appreciate the details in these photos, especially the AH-6 and MH-6 aircraft of the 160th SOAR as they evolved from the four-bladed main rotor through the five-bladed main rotor and into the current six-

This is an excellent reference for the aviation historian as well as the modeler.

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