February 7, 2006:
After 45 years of service, the U.S. Navy has retired it's H-3 Sea King helicopters. The nine ton aircraft was a late 1950s design, and contemporary of the U.S. Army's UH-1 "Huey." Both have been replaced by a navy version of the Hueys successor, the UH-60 Blackhawk. The Sea King was also known as the S-61, and served as an executive transport as well. For many years, it was the helicopter transport for the U.S. president. Over a dozen other navies bought the Sea King, and many still use it.
The H-3 had a range of about a thousand kilometers, and a top speed of 210 kilometers an hour It was the first helicopter to go that fast). The H-3 was used for anti-submarine warfare and search & rescue, as well as transporting stuff from ship to ship, and ship to shore. Some 1,100 H-3s were built (about ten percent were the civilian S-61 version), and over a hundred are still in use. Such long service lives are increasingly common. None of the first H-3s produced were in service for over 40 years, but many survived for over three decades.