EMU INC. was the brainchild of two old EMU’s, Geoff Carr and Peter Olesko. Geoff served as a crewchief/doorgunner with the 135th from April, 1970 through December, 1971. Peter also served as a crewchief/doorgunner with the company from July, 1970 through February, 1972. Both Geoff and Peter served in the 1st Platoon (slicks*) and later the 3rd Platoon (gunships*) which had the separate call sign of TAIPAN. For over half of 1971, Geoff served as both a crewchief and the platoon sergeant of the 1st Platoon before leaving to fly his last several months in the TAIPANS. Peter flew approximately half of his tour with the 1st Platoon and the other half with the TAIPANS.
After the war, Geoff and Peter stayed in contact when Peter decided to move to Geoff’s home state (California) from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Peter went on to become an accomplished fixed and rotary wing aviator. He has approximately 9,000 total hours, almost 5,000 of which are in rotary wing aircraft. Peter has done everything from fixed and rotary wing flight instruction to flying helicopters off tuna boats. Besides being an excellent pilot with an unblemished safety record, Peter is also a licensed A&P mechanic and has worked in both capacities over the years. Geoff’s interest in aviation is only to feed his addiction to helicopters developed while flying almost 1900 hours with the 135th in Vietnam. In addition to maintaining their friendship for over thirty years, Geoff and Peter owned a Hughes 500 from 1987 to 1991 which they operated commercially in California.
Peter is the chief pilot and mechanic for EMU INC.. He has been indispensable in obtaining and overhauling an aircraft to recreate as EMU 309. Geoff is the chief executive officer, bottle washer and general flunky for EMU INC.. Luckily, because Geoff and Peter lived through the complex business of helicopter ownership and operation before, an otherwise difficult project has been somewhat moderated by hard experience.
Geoff and Peter would like to thank the following folks for assisting in the formation of EMU INC. and most especially for helping locate and overhaul a flyable aircraft that could be recreated as EMU 309:
STEVE SULLIVAN: Steve is the owner of Aris Helicopters of San Jose, California and International Helicopter Parts of Lincoln, California. Without a doubt, Steve is one of the most capable commercial helicopter operators on the West Coast. Steve’s reputation in the industry is above reproach. Geoff and Peter have known Steve since Peter took his primary rotary wing instruction at Aris in the early 1970’s. Thankfully, after some initial skepticism, we were able to gain Steve’s whole-hearted assistance in locating an appropriate aircraft as well as parts and services to bring that aircraft into airworthy condition. Steve served as a pilot in the 57th AHC in Vietnam.
RAY MURPHY: Ray is an FAA Inspector at the Oakland FSDO. He has helped EMU INC. overcome many bureaucratic hurdles and has taken a personal interest in the EMU 309 project that is much appreciated. Ray served as a pilot in the 25th Infantry Division Artillery Aviation Section in Vietnam.
BRANDON CARR: Brandon is Geoff’s son. Because of an apparent genetic fluke, Brandon has a great interest in EMU INC. and was willing to take time off from his regular job to be Peter’s right arm during the recreation of EMU 309. He has worked diligently with Peter for months to make EMU 309 airworthy. Brandon’s half-brother, Lloyd, also donated summer vacation time to assist in our project.
SCOTT MOWERY: Scott is another EMU veteran who served in the 1st Platoon of the 135th for most of his tour which happened to coincide with much of the time Geoff and Peter were in the unit. By pure happenstance, Scott and Geoff hooked up a few years ago when both joined the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association and discovered they lived only a few miles apart. Scott has been instrumental in creating the EMU INC. website.
WILLIAM HYSMITH: Bill served as a crewchief with the TAIPANS in 1970. His ship was 495. Bill created the unit web site at www.135ahc.com . His creativity and knowledge of web design was crucial to the creation of the emuinc.org website.
GEOFF JONES: Geoff is another old EMU who surfaced due to the miracle of the Internet and the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association. Although limited physically from injuries received when he was shot down in Cambodia with WO1 Terry Mezera (KIA) in 1971, Geoff has been active in supporting EMU INC. and also in helping to preserve a photographic history of the EMU 309 project.
JON BRONES: Jon is the aviation maintenance supervisor for the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. Without Jon’s able assistance and guidance, procuring 65-09870 would have been impossible. 870 was purchased from the Army by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office in 1996 under Jon’s direction. When we located her and determined she might be available for sale, Jon was of great assistance in that transaction. Jon is also a Vietnam veteran who served as a crewchief/doorgunner in the 191st AHC.
ROBERT SIMMONS: Bob is the proud owner of a Huey that coincidently served extensively in the 135th AHC (66-16298). Bob also purchased 298 from Jon Brones at the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office. A lucky referral to Bob enabled us to locate 870 for the EMU 309 project. Bob has also been very generous in providing advice, equipment and especially hanger space for our project.
RICH CROWE: Rich is Bob Simmons’ mechanic. Rich has helped us avoid many pitfalls in the process of getting an old Huey into airworthy condition.
HELICOPTER COMPONENT SERVICES: Roger Stoffers, Richard Bennett and Mike Tomlin at Helicopter Component Services have been extremely helpful in providing ramp space, special tools and advice on our project. They are the sort of quality aviation maintenance people who help keep the landscape from being littered with excessive quantities of crumpled aluminum. Their maintenance assistance on our gear boxes and rotor components has also been exemplary.
KEVIN and MATT FREDERICK: Kevin is a good friend of Geoff’s and a very good civil lawyer. As with all projects, EMU INC. could not happen without the paperwork. Kevin kindly donated his services preparing our corporate documents and filings. Matt, Kevin’s son, volunteered most of his summer vacation to assist in the dirty business of stripping EMU 309.
JOHN STEVENOT: John is a knowledgeable collector of historical military equipment and has been of great assistance in perfecting the details of EMU 309’s miscellaneous equipment.
DAVE STRAUGHN, STEVE ILMBERGER and GREG PALMER: Dave, Steve, and Greg gave great assistance in sheet metal work and painting EMU 309.
ERIC ARBIZU: Special thanks is owed to Eric, our painter, for the amazing paint job he achieved on 309 under extremely difficult circumstances.
BUD FIELD: Bud is the owner of Bud Field Aviation, numerous vintage aircraft, and the pristine hangar which shelters 309.
MIKE ACKERMAN and BRIAN WALSH: Mike and Brian donated significant time in the reassembly of 309 after she was painted.
There are many other individuals who deserve to be mentioned but have been left out for the sake of brevity. However, a special thank you is owed to the staff at Geoff’s office, our families and our friends who have all been extremely supportive in this difficult but rewarding endeavor. Finally, but perhaps most of all, we would like to thank all those who cannot be here but without whom this project would have been impossible.