The New England Air Museum Thursday unveiled its newest addition to its collection of aircraft, a SH-2F Seasprite helicopter.
The SH-2F Seasprite was manufactured in 1985 by Kaman Aerospace Corporation of Bloomfield, and saw service with the U.S. Navy. With the first model introduced in 1962, the SH-2 Seasprite helicopter has had a long and distinguished career originally designed for the rescue of downed airmen at sea with models significantly evolving to become submarine hunters, officials said.
Mike Speciale, executive director of the museum, said the helicopter is part and parcel of something bigger for the museum, which is maintaining the and preserving all of the technological machines that have been produced in Connecticut. Those machines were manufactured by Kaman, Sikorsky Helicopter and Pratt &Whitney, he said.
“It’s very important,” Speciale said. “It’s our heritage in Connecticut.”
The Seasprite will be part of a larger display in the future that will highlight the contributions of Charles Kaman and his aerospace corporation, Speciale said.
Bob Manaskie of Kaman helped oversee then restoration of the Seasprite. Manaskie said the restoration took about eight weeks. A lot of older workers and retirees stopped by to help during the restoration, he said.
Although in many cases they seemed more interested in telling stories about flying the helicopter than helping to find old parts for the restoration, Manaskie joked.
“We’re very proud to be able to show one of Mr. Kaman’s machines,” Manaskie said.
Drake Klotzmann, also of Kaman, said the helicopter model has a great history and was used by the U.S. Navy in combat operations with aircraft carriers in case airplane pilots had to be rescued.
Klotzmann told attendees of the unveiling that the Seasprite at one time held the world land speed record for helicopters when it was a single engine model. The Navy later required that the helicopters have twin engines for safety reasons, he said.