News

Swantown 'Huey' helicopter/Whidbey landmark sold, hauled away

Brien Lillquist stands atop his Vietnam-era helicopter that has been on his Swantown Avenue property for the past five years. He sold his landmark  helicopter and it was removed from his yard Tuesday.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Brien Lillquist stands atop his Vietnam-era helicopter that has been on his Swantown Avenue property for the past five years. He sold his landmark helicopter and it was removed from his yard Tuesday.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

For the past five years, a UH1H helicopter has been sitting in the front yard of Brien Lillquist’s home on Swantown Road near Oak Harbor, becoming a prominent landmark for folks on Whidbey Island.

That landmark went away this week as Lillquist sold the “Huey.” It was hauled away Tuesday and transported to South Carolina.

Lillquist said he and his wife, Nancy, are moving near the Whidbey Golf and Country Club and he’s looking to simplify. He said he just didn’t have the time to restore the helicopter as he had planned.

“I always seem to have too many projects,” Lillquist said.

Fortunately it looks like the Huey could fly again. The person who bought the helicopter plans to restore it. Lillquist even had the engine sitting in his workshop.

When he started advertising his helicopter he also received offers from several movie prop companies. He preferred to go with someone who would restore it.

“It was nicer to see it fly rather than see it blow up in a movie,” Lillquist said.

Lillquist, a former airplane mechanic, inspector and pilot, bought the helicopter from a man in California who was scrapping them.

In the years that it’s been sitting in its front yard, it has become quite a roadside attraction. Senior citizens and families would sometimes stop by for a closer look, and it’s been a popular landmark for people giving directions to friends.

He said he’s learned there are quite a few Army veterans living on Whidbey Island and the sight of the helicopter brought back memories of the Vietnam War.

To get the helicopter ready to be moved, he had to package the engine and remove the shaft and rotor so it would be short enough to travel on a truck.

His helicopter wasn’t the only thing that is noteworthy in Lillquist’s yard. A small, miniature railroad track wove its way through his property. He used it for his model railroad engines that he built 15 years ago. Those engines weigh 700 pounds but he plans to keep them at his new home.

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