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Exciting News for Aviation Challenge: Return of the Helo Dunker

August 2021 brought exciting news for Aviation Challenge enthusiasts! The helo dunker is an underwater egress training component that is much loved in the Aviation Challenge community.

Helo Dunker Arriving USSRC

In 2020, the current helo dunker system at the Aviation Challenge lake had to unfortunately be retired, as the owner of the system asked for it to be taken down. With the financial struggles brought on by COVID-19 and no leads on a potential helo dunker replacement, Aviation Challenge programs ran without a helo dunker during the 2021 season.

Tim Sheehy, owner of Bridger Aerospace, Aviation Challenge alumnus and U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation board member, knew exactly how important this component was as a part of the Aviation Challenge curriculum and connected our facility with a potential donor that had a helo dunker that met our needed specifications.

This introduction to Albert Bohomeier from Nova Scotia, Canada would prove to have a much needed positive impact on Aviation Challenge program for future summers. Albert was the owner of a retired 9D5 Helo Dunker unit, that was decommissioned and kept as a part of a private collection. At a time when he was looking to reduce the size of his collection, he heard about the need for a helo dunker at Aviation Challenge. Through this wonderful connection that Tim Sheehy and Albert Bohomeier made, Albert set plans into motion to have his retired helo dunker donated to Space Camp, to be used at the Aviation Challenge facility.

Helo Dunker in Canada

Since the dunker was located in Canada, this was not an easy feat. There were customs, and flatbed trucks, and shipping considerations that all needed to be set into place to bring the helo dunker to Huntsville, Alabama.

Enter another Aviation Challenge alumnus and Huntsville native that wanted to ensure that the dunker would make its way back to Aviation Challenge, J Spencer of Huntsville, Alabama. The helo dunker was one of J’s favorite memories from camp, and we wanted to help ensure that future trainees could enjoy this activity as well. J gave a generous donation to help transport the helo dunker from Canada to Huntsville, and begin the process of getting the dunker installed.

Helo Dunker at USSRC

The dunker has now arrived at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and is ready to be evaluated to see what needs to be done to get the piece operational. If you would like to contribute to the Aviation Challenge Helo Dunker project, visit our GIVE page – and use the hashtag #ACHeloDunker in the comments of your donation to support this awesome project!


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