Was the Sikorsky S64 Sky Crane ever in Air Force inventory? It appears that the Army used a lot of them, but I did not find any information on USAF use of the Sky Crane.
The Air Force did not own any S-64's. They were Army aircraft.
I had previously held the false impression that the Tarhe had been operated by the USAF, probably because I'd heard that they had operated in support of Air America operations from USAF bases.
Some searching turned up accounts which counter that:
All the photographs of the Tarhe I had seen, have the words United States Army on them. I also had a model, do not remember if Revell or Monogram >:D had the same words on it. Nice model, detachable cargo pod and operating winch, when you turned the rotor it could wind up the winch...
The model had the two turbines side by side but I saw a Youtube video which stated one was a little ahead of the other. Did not understand why, but I think they said it was to offset a torque problem.
There are more Youtube videos of the Tarhe bought up by a private company, converting them to water tankers for fire suppression. Two different types of snorkels. One to use while skimming a river or large surface water, the other one when hovering over a pond, lake, or swimming pool... >:D
It would be nice if the Army could have made "undercover" missions for Air America by just painting United States Air Force over the United States Army logo but it would not have fooled anyone...
Erickson Air Crane not only owns a bunch of S-64s, they own the *type certificate* now.
Erickson is the company I remember with the most S-64 videos. One showed them with at least three, some videos were in international jobs. Their helicopters are mostly red or orange with blue letters or accents. They also used the helicopter for other types of hoist jobs. Like putting air conditioners on top of a skyscraper. However most of the videos were in their water tanker configuration. Also saw probably a concept or demo they are working on to evacuate high-rise buildings in case of fires. In place of the cargo pod, a platform that when taking people off a high rise it opens on the end, and the helo lowers it to the ground. Then it opens on all sides to let them off.
Sadly they lost a helicopter in a job with no survivors.
But I also saw at least a video with one in another company livery. Mostly different colors.
I was at a wildlands fire in the early 1980s where a National Guard Skycrane was called in to do water drops. Impressive to say the least.
I was doing an interview on the local TV station covering the fire when the helicopter returned to the pond to take on water. I warned the reporter that the rotor wash would be intense, but he wouldn't listen. He became so disoriented in the hurricane-force wind and water that he fell into the pond and dropped the microphone into the water. Good times!
Several years back, I was in my apartment near the local airpatch. I lived about 250 yards to one side of the approach and maybe 2/3 of a mile from the threshold. All manner of neato aircraft would fly past my balcony at all hrs of the day and night, and I *loved* it. It was like a free airshow all the time. Citations, Challengers, Blackhawks, all manner of bug-smashers...
One day I'm sitting there in the morning, feet up, reading, and I hear this strange sound. It sounds like a jet, maybe a Beechjet or something little. No, no, thats bigger than a Beechjet. What the...?
But then, no, wait, there's this rhythmic sound and... the jet sound gives way to a high-beat rotor system.
I can identify most helicopters from the last 40 years or so by sound. Seriously, I can usually tell within a few seconds the difference, say, between a Bell 412 and a 414, an EC135 vs a Hughes 500, etc. I can literally hear a Chinook 10 miles away, in the background noise, and say "there's a Chinook nearby.."
But this sound. No, this sound isn't anything I've ever heard before. Seriously, like never ever.
I leaped to the doorwall as an Erickson S64 burst over the trees over my head on its way to land at the airport. "wow!"
I took the kids out for lunch and we brought our chow over to the airport so we could see the Aircrane getting gassed up and leave. My daughter was bored. :)