New year, new chapter in FRCE support to presidential helicopter program

New year, new chapter in FRCE support to presidential helicopter program

January 12, 2021

 

From New Bern Sun Journal
By John Olmstead, Fleet Readiness Center East
Jan 9, 2021

Presidential Helicopter Program at FRC East

VH-3D Sea King

Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) marked the end of an era when artisans recently boxed up the last T58-GE-400B presidential helicopter engine and shipped it out to the Marines who provide safe and timely transportation of the President of the United States.

The current version of the presidential helicopter FRCE supports, the VH-3D Sea King, is scheduled to be replaced by the newer VH-92A presidential helicopter in 2021.

The maintenance, repair and overhaul center located aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, has worked with the Presidential Helicopter Program, also known as the Gold Plate Program, for more than five decades.

Based on FRCE’s experience and reputation for quality products, the program is already in motion at FRCE to transition their support to the VH-92A.

FRCE began working with the presidential helicopter in 1967, when the organization was known as the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF). The General Electric T58-GE-8C engines produced at the facility powered the VH-3A version of the Sea King helicopter in support of Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1). The VH-3A helicopter was a modified version of the Sikorsky H-3 Sea King antisubmarine helicopter designed to provide short-range helicopter transportation to the president.

In the years since, the program has transitioned through two engine upgrades before adopting the T58-GE-400B in 1985, which is the configuration still in use today.

“As a mechanic, when you build something, watch it get tested and pass inspection and watch it go out and do what it’s designed to do – that’s satisfaction,” said Charles Morgan, a pneudraulics systems mechanic who started with the program in 2005. “It’s the pride in knowing that you had a part in the helicopter that’s flying the president.”