The Bell 47 Helicopter Expo was held June 19th, 2010 at SIUC Aviation Technical School in Carbondale, IL. The keynote speaker & host for the event that drew audience members as far away as Guatemala in addition to members from all over the United States was Bell 47 Helicopter Association President and Aviation Hall of Fame Honoree Joey “Mr. Bell 47” Rhodes.
Opening the event was SIUC Aviation Dept Chairman Mike Burgener and SIUC’s Lowell Berentsen who welcomed the audience and discussed the university’s aviation rotorcraft maintenance program. Recently honored “Arkansas Helicopter Certified Flight Instructor of the Year” Steve Foster dramatically discussed and illustrated helicopter maneuvers. Foster gave each attendee an extensive free Bell 47 ground school flight training portfolio binder. Following him was Inspector Authorized Mechanic & B47HA Sec/Treasurer/Trustee Neal Toler of Illinois Wing & Rotor who provided a detailed clinic on trailering helicopters using a Bell 47J Ranger helicopter as a visual aid. Toler explained the pitfalls and attributes of “The Mummy” – a long term improperly stored helicopter. Another special guest for the event was new owner of the type certificate of the Bell 47 recently purchased from Bell Helicopter Textron – Scotts Helicopters of Minnesota. Scotts’ Chris Meyers provided an extensive overview of the future for the SB 47. Due to poor weather Scotts were unable to arrive via their private aircraft, however Rhodes quickly arranged a teleconference wired to the Expo’s public address system and audience member listen to Scotts presentation live and enjoyed interacting in the follow-up “Larry King style format” by having questions answered by Meyers. The finale of the show was the appearance of Viacom’s approved duo “The New Whirlybirds” from Los Angeles, Ca. Rhodes and his partner, VP Danny Rodriguez, presented an action packed behind the scenes look at the cult 1950’s Desi Arnez & Lucy Ball TV show “The Whirlybirds.” Rhodes surprised everyone in attendance when he honored and presented three members with honorary Gold memberships. First was SIUC’s Berentsen, Secondly was Homer Bell of Ohio who was the first to fly a homebuilt helicopter across the USA over the Rockies, and finally world famous Hollywood aerial helicopter coordinator for such films as Air America, James Bond Series, and many others – Marc Wolff of Nice, France. Also on hand were Gold Members Craig Mueller – TX, Brian Lambert – OK, CFI & Professional Airlines Pilot Mark Hoehn -IL and Jerry Clemmens – KS of Bell 47 Parts who flew his Cessna 185 in to provide gifts and greet the crowd. Jerry provided an overview of his company passed out t-shirts and gift certificates. Toler’s company Illinois Wing & Rotor also provided gifts, along with Rodriguez bringing collectibles to share with members. Homer Bell’s daughter Stephanie – FL brought freebies from her company Eaton Aerospace Group. A complete lunch was served and food and drink were abundant throughout the day. Friday night Rhodes hosted a dinner at the Holiday Inn’s connected Houlihans. A pre show lunch was also hosted by Rhodes for Berentsen, Toler and member Dan Benton.