Key Moment

By Robert Torgerson

November 2015

In early 1991, I was asked to lead Boeing Philadelphia's 75th anniversary celebration. One of the first ideas came from a retired Boeing executive. His idea was for the Boeing retiree club to refurbish an aging HUP-1 helicopter and present it at Family Day that fall. We would generate publicity, get retirees active and do something to promote helicopters.

The HUP-1, called Retriever, was a tandem-rotor helicopter built by Piasecki Helicopter, predecessor to Vertol Aircraft Corp. and Boeing.

The team did an outstanding job replacing landing gear, repainting aircraft and decals, and putting in a new windshield. I went about finding a museum. There were many choices, but a little-known museum in the English resort city of Weston-super-Mare won the day. Known as the International Helicopter Museum, this private collection is a treasure trove of rotorcraft history.

In the presentation at Family Day we were going to "turn over" the HUP's keys to the museum. Local TV would be present to record. Well, I forgot to bring the keys -- so my car keys became the prop.

No one seemed to notice other than the retired Boeing executive, who would never let me forget.