October 14-15, 2000
Review written on October 15, 2000.
Rotorfest is an all helicopter show. It's located at the Brandywine Airport in West Chester, PA (which is in some of the most beautiful parts of PA, in terms of foliage). The show there draws a lot of people (close to or over 10,000 this year), and it's the airshow you want to go to just to see helicopters, learn about the history of the helicopter, and much more.
We arrived at the Brandywine Airport at roughly 11 AM. Parking on the airport was simple - these people know how to direct parking! There is a small area where all the food and souvenir vendors are. I wasn't too thrilled with all the vendors, but you have to remember: it's a small airport and ramp space is at a premium, so you have to do with what you got. The flying started around 11:45 with the Bell 47. He demonstrated some of the handling characteristics of that chopper and incorporated an auto-rotate demo, which is when you lose power to the main rotor. It's this feature that makes helicopters one of the safest machines to fly. Afterwards, four autogyros flew and did almost a review, with each craft doing something unusual, unique, and different than the other. The Nighthawk autogyro stayed up in the air for another 5-10 minutes with a demonstration, which was very nice, but some spectators around me wanted that thing to land! An RC chopper was up next, and the pilot of that craft did some cool maneuvers even a real helicopter can't do! The Coast Guard out of Atlantic City brought a HH-65 Daulphin in for a Search and Rescue demonstration. It was a very nice demonstration, despite the fact that I couldn't see 90% of it (happened to get most of David Schultz's red Explorer in the demo). Closing out the morning show was the Apache, which put on an excellent display. It's amazing how close the choppers are to the crowd when they do their demonstrations.
In between shows, there was a lot of activity with private planes (yes, airplanes), the four helicopters giving rides, and everyone walking around. There was a nice new car display on the ramp, with 2001 models of the Aztec, Catera, couple Volvos, to name a few. A local boat and RV dealer brought out some RVs and boats. They are all very nice! The Helicopter Museum was opened for tours and looks. Probably the highlight for me was right before the afternoon show... I shook hands with the coordinator, David Schultz. He is a great guy, knows what he's doing, and as a token for his support for the site and me, allowed me to jump past the crowd line to videotape. I took that offer up, but there was a disadvantage to that. You really couldn't get the narration as best as you could behind the crowd (which is why I stayed near that one speaker).
The second show started out with the Philadelphia Police Department showing off their Bell JetRanger helicopter. It is a very nice chopper, overall white paint job with the police badge painted on the fuselage. He departed and Joe Borin put on his autogyro for a demonstration. Joe was supposed to fly that at South Jersey Regional, but instead flew the BT-13 Valiant. He put on a neat demonstration in the autogryo, showing off its unique "aerobatic" capabilities and handling characteristics. The final leg of the show was the mass departures of the military choppers. First was the Apache, which did a demo before departing. He did a few passes in formation with an AH-1F Cobra from the Army. The Blackhawk did some hovering passes before he departed. The AH-1W Cobra and the UH-1N Huey did some formation passes before departing. The USAF Huey hovered for a little before departing (and eah chopper added a few passes before actually departing). A Sea King out of NAS Pax River, MD departed with a few flybys. It's a very big helicopter, even when you look at it from a distance. Finally, the Army's Huey made a pass and departed, and thus ended a successful Rotorfest 2000.
Note: if you saw someone past the crowd line during the afternoon show on Sunday taping, that was me! I had gotten an invite from David Schultz himself if I wanted to videotape from up there (well, I had showed him the master copy of the F-14 crash so I guess this was his way of saying, "Thanks.").
Entire show: 8.5
Performing Military Helicopters