Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Commuters may see military helicopters today

Commuters may see military helicopters today

Early morning commuters may have to rub their eyes to make sure of what they're seeing today when military helicopters from bygone days rise above the hills in Murrieta en route to Washington, D.C., for Memorial Day.

Three UH-1 ``Huey'' helicopters, the type captured in thousands of photos depicting the Vietnam conflict, and an OH-58 Kiowa, used in Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s, will take off this morning on a trip that will culminate with a flyover at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in the nation's capital, said Shayne Meder, information officer for the Wings & Rotors Air Museum at French Valley Airport.

The aircraft will make stops at Vietnam memorials and remembrance ceremonies at 43 cities along the way, Meder said.

For 20 years, motorcyclists from all over the country have traveled to the Washington, D.C., memorial to remember veterans on Memorial Day, and this
year, the helicopters will provide air escort, Meder said.

The helicopters were restored at the museum and are fully functional and combat-certified, she said.

``It's a memorial flight to honor the veterans,'' Meder said. ``It's never been done.''

Meder said the money for the trip -- it will take $80,000 for fuel alone -- comes from corporate sponsors and private donations.

The museum is a not- for-profit entity, she said.

Cities where riders and fliers will make stops will provide meals and housing for those participating, she said.

The aircraft and riders are expected to reach Washington, D.C., on May 22, with the ride to the wall and flyover on May 25, to coincide with the annual remembrance ceremonies at the memorial wall.

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