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American Helicopter Museum Unveils Restoration of Iconic Vintage Aircraft

Gander Express in 1947 – Photo courtesy of the National Naval Aviation Museum

October 8, 2021 - West Chester, PA – The American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (AHMEC) wishes to invite members of the media to our exclusive, member’s-only unveiling of one of the most important helicopters in United States Coast Guard (USCG) rescue history, “the Gander Express,” a vintage 1945 Sikorsky HOS-1, that was restored by the Museum’s volunteers over an eight-year period. The event occurs Friday, October 15, from 7 until 9 p.m.

The “Gander Express” is so named because it was one of two USCG helicopters that rescued 18 injured passengers from a crashed Sabena Airlines’ DC-4 airliner in Gander, Newfoundland, in 1946. The single rotor aircraft established helicopters as rescue vehicles and cemented a place for helicopters in the USCG inventory.

Speakers will be aviation historian Lt. Col. Paul J, Fardink, who was recently awarded the John J. Schneider Historical Achievement Award for his significant contributions in documenting rotorcraft history, and Douglass Schaeffer, AHMEC’s Head of Restoration, who began volunteering at the Museum in 2007, providing his extensive composite background that includes Reading Aviation and The Boeing Company.

“We’re fortunate to have restored the first Sikorsky HOS-1 that was involved in the first Coast Guard air rescue,” explained Schaeffer. “This is the first complete restoration from start to finish that was done entirely in-house. It will also be the only HOS-1 on display anywhere.”

We are expecting U.S. Coast Guard dignitaries from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as a USCG MH-65D Dolphin helicopter from Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Interviews are available with Schaeffer and Anthony Freeman, AHMEC’s Exhibits Committee Chairman.

Please contact me at 610-436-9600, x204, or [email protected] to arrange to attend this historic event, for interviews and images, or for more information

The American Helicopter Museum and Education Center, located at 1220 American Boulevard, West Chester, is the nation’s premier aviation museum devoted exclusively to helicopters. Established in 1996, the nonprofit organization collects, restores, and displays rotary-wing aircraft, including over 35 civilian and military helicopters, autogyros, and convertiplanes.