The Presidential Helicopter Squadron, HMX-1, is actually made up of two components: the Presidential unit with its VIP transport role, and an experimental unit which is tasked with operational test and evaluation of new flight systems for Marine Corps helicopters. The experimental unit is affectionately known as the ‘Green Side’. And this is where Marines who were being assigned to HMX-1 for the first time started their assignment while waiting for their Top Secret security clearances to be obtained and then waited for a slot to open up in the Presidential unit. The shops for the Green Side were spread across two hangers one of which was located across the airfield in a separate facility known as Larson Gym.
I first arrived at Larson Gym in the late spring of 1973. As an aircraft structural mechanic, I was assigned to the ‘Metal Shop’, and it was here that I gained my first experience working on ‘real’ aircraft. The aircraft were actually helicopters that included an inventory of CH-53D Sea Stallions and CH-46 Sea Knights.
The CH-53’s, made by Sikorsky, were large beasties noted for their heavy lift capability as well as their ability to cover you with hydraulic fluid just by looking at them. I enjoyed working on them as their large size allowed for ease of access, however, they were messy! The following photos show a CH-53 on the flight line as well as one with both it’s main rotor blades and tail rotor folded as they would have been for maintenance while in a hanger.
The CH-46’s, made by Boeing, had twin main rotors, were also easy to work on due to their size, and they were clean! The following photos show a CH-46 on the flight line at Quantico opened up for maintenance, as well as one with both it’s main rotor blades folded as they would have been for maintenance while in a hanger.