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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: RotorFest 2008 Draws Large Crowd

COMMERCIAL | MILITARY

RotorFest, the annual helicopter open house and air show hosted by the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center in West Chester, Penn. drew a crowd of 3,500 rotorcraft enthusiasts each day of the weekend-long event, which was held on October 11 and 12.

Visitors of all ages could stroll through the museum where history-making helicopters, such as an AH-1 Cobra, a Bell 206B JetRanger and a Robinson R22, are kept on displayed in the indoor exhibit hall. Out back on the museum’s apron — a part of Brandywine Airport (N99) — attendees could get a close-up look at the museum’s V-22 Osprey, or one of more than a dozen other helicopters owned by the museum or flown in by others for the event.

Each day, visitors could climb aboard active military and civilian helicopters, including a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook, an MD-902 Explorer operated by Sky Flight Care, and a U.S. Air Force UH-1N Huey. Operational aircraft took turns throughout the day performing flight demonstrations for the fascinated crowd or gave rides to hundreds who stood in long lines to experience the thrill of rotary-wing flight.

"Lots of people tell us they went into the helicopter field because of what they saw here," said Chuck Schalch, a member of the board of trustees and a former Army pilot. "Look at the kids! All of them are just loving this!"

Schalch said they try to hold the event around the same time each year. And while the museum has yet to set an exact date for the next RotorFest, it expects to have it toward the middle of October in 2009.

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