The Life of a Helicopter

By Noah Graff

March 6, Olaf Tessarzyk, Managing Partner/President of ZPS America, test flew a Uh1-H Huey 563 helicopter he helped build as part of the Indiana Air Search and Rescue organization (IASAR).

IASAR is a non-profit organization which restores old helicopters, which will then be used for 3rd tier search and rescue duty and air shows. Every Tuesday evening for the last five years Olaf and 36 other members of IASAR, many of them Vietnam veterans, gathered at a hanger at Indianapolis metro airport to restore the helicopter. Everyone took on different job, such as maintenance of the radio, working on the turbine, etc. Olaf got the sweet gig of being the test pilot because he was the only certified test pilot in group—he got his certification serving in the German military.

Olaf beamed as he talked about how honored he felt to be part of the eclectic group of volunteers who shared his passion for helicopters and working hard together for a good cause.

This specific helicopter has had an interesting life, one that kind of reminded me of the life of a good ole used machine tool. From 1968-1972 it had been flown in Vietnam. After that it was used for military training and finally it had been used for search and rescue. Olaf and the IASAR team either rebuilt or replaced all of the helicopter’s parts including putting in a brand new engine. Many times they would have to acquire parts by trading spare parts with other people building their own helicopters.

IASAR is entirely funded by donations, membership fees of $85 per year and corporate sponsors. ZPS America sponsored 10 memberships. Members get one helicopter ride every year, which a great deal considering that often a helicopter joyride will cost $400 or $500 a pop.

Go to for a video of the first flight.

The First Flight of the 563

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