Helicopter-Turned-Art Installation Arrives in Downtown St. Louis Today


  • Photo courtesy of Take Me Home Huey.

A traveling art installation is coming in for a landing today, right by Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. 

Contemporary artist Steve Maloney has been traveling around the country with his work, Take Me Home Huey, a sculpture installation made from the remains of a historic U.S. Army helicopter found in an Arizona boneyard. The helicopter, identified as Huey #174, was shot down in 1969 during a medical rescue in Vietnam. Maloney has since turned the helicopter into a work of art — and St. Louisans can explore it from the inside out, now through Sunday.

Don't go thinking that Take Me Home Huey is any old aircraft — or any ordinary piece of art. Maloney partnered with Arizona nonprofit Light Horse Legacy, a USA Vietnam War Commemorative Partner devoted to supporting veterans with post-traumatic stress. The organization had the helicopter completely restored, and then gave it to Maloney to turn into art for healing. Since the installation's completion, the organization has reconnected surviving troops and families connected to the helicopter — and Maloney has traveled with Take Me Home Huey across the country.

The sculpture's tour began in November 2015 with various stops around Virginia. Since then, it has been displayed in various military and aircraft museums around the country, including the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Today, Take Me Home Huey will receive a hero's welcome when it arrives at its St. Louis home between 13th Street and North Tucker Boulevard, complete with a motorcycle escort.

“As a native Midwesterner, I’m excited to show Take Me Home Huey in downtown St. Louis as well as to receive such support and interest from the city and local veterans groups," Maloney said in a statement. "The work is a colorful ambassador that employs a real piece of history for understanding and healing. It’s dedicated to the 2,709,918 Americans that served in Vietnam. Crisscrossing the country has been quite an experience and I’m proud to continue the work’s mission in the Gateway City.”

The installation's time in St. Louis will include a pinning ceremony for local military veterans and an information booth with support services for veterans, particularly those who are homeless or have PTSD. Local Vietnam veteran Eric Berla, a former Aircraft Commander who flew Huey #174 during his time in Vietnam, will also come to the exhibition. From here, the installation will continue on to the Anderson Air Show in South Carolina and the America's Parade in New York City for Veterans Day. 

You can find more information about Take Me Home Huey, including a documentary about the aircraft's transformation, at takemehomehuey.org.