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Holy-1 Recovery Story
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By Terry Robinson

Under the control of Max Mebergall, Vertol 44B (CF-NVC) landed inside the
Vatican on February 15th, 1959.... the first motorized vehicle to ever enter the
inner compound and was blessed by Pope John XXIII. This was in connection with
rescue work it was pressed into during the 1959 Italian earthquake disaster. The
Vertol 44B, is the civilian model of the H21 "Flying Banana".

CF-NVC had been the Vertol factory demonstrator (N74058), and was in Europe in
1959 during the Brussels World's Fair for trials with SABENA airlines and civil
operators in several other countries, as well as for mine-sweeping trials in
Belgium. It also made several water landings with inflatable pontoons. During
this time (after the blessing), it has been said that the radio call sign used
in Europe was "Holy One".

It arrived in Canada in 1963 and was operated for the next 17 years by
Skyrotors, Spartan, Dominion Helicopters, Atlantic Helicopters, Deltaire and
Mapleleaf Helicopters.

In the late 1970's, NVC was stored on a farm near Arnprior and in 1986 was
donated and moved to the Canadian Museum of Flight
(www.canadianflight.org) in Western Canada.

Due to limited storage facilities and the requirement to remove it from the farm
where it was stored, several options were evaluated for subsequent use. One of
these was to sink it in the Ocean as an artificial reef and as a dive site.

Classic Rotors was able to obtain this ship in 2000 and move it to Southern
California in July of 2001. It will be stored, with great appreciation, at the
March Field Museum (www.pe.net/~marfldmu/index.html), Riverside,
California until restoration is undertaken by Classic Rotors Helicopter Museum,
once permanent facilities are completed.

The retrieval of "Holy One" was filmed by SK Vertical Flight along with Classic
Rotors' H21 for scenes in the upcoming IMAX movie produced by the Smithsonian
Institute titled "Straight Up". This IMAX film is due to be released in late
2002. See movie trailer>

 

 

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